How to Plan Tax Savings for Retirement: Your Complete Guide

Planning for retirement means more than saving money. It also means knowing how taxes will affect your savings and investments in the future.

person holding a stack of cash while sitting at a table. saving money on taxes

Did you know you could get a tax break for retirement savings? The federal government offers incentives to save for retirement through taxes, including a federal tax credit for retirement savings. Using these opportunities wisely is important to maximize your tax savings in retirement.

In this guide, we will look at different ways to save on taxes for retirement planning. We’ll also help you gain a better understanding of tax laws to make the most of your savings. We want to guide you towards a retirement plan that provides tax advantages for retirement savings!

Types of Retirement Accounts and Workplace Retirement Plans

Workplace Retirement Plans:

401(k) Plans:

  • Contribution Method: Employees contribute a portion of their pre-tax income, reducing their taxable income for the year. Some employers may offer matching contributions, providing an extra incentive.
  • Best For: Employees of companies offering 401(k) plans, especially those seeking pre-tax contributions and potential employer matching.

SEP IRA (Simplified Employee Pension IRA):

  • Contribution Method: Designed for self-employed individuals and small business owners. Contributions are tax-deductible and grow tax-deferred until withdrawal in retirement.
  • Best For: Self-employed individuals and small business owners looking for tax-deductible retirement savings options.

SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees IRA):

  • Contribution Method: Small businesses with under 100 employees can make tax-deductible contributions and grow their money tax-deferred.
  • Best For: Employees of small businesses seeking a retirement plan with tax benefits similar to a 401(k).

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs):

Traditional IRA:

  • Contribution Method: You make contributions with pre-tax dollars, reducing taxable income for the year. The government taxes your withdrawals in retirement as ordinary income.
  • Best For: Individuals looking for tax-deferred growth and immediate tax deductions on contributions.

Roth IRA:

  • The contribution method involves making contributions with after-tax dollars, which allows for tax-free withdrawals in retirement. You can withdraw contributions penalty-free at any time. But, you can only contribute to a Roth IRA if your annual income is below a certain limit. The Roth IRA income limit for 2023 is $153,000 per year – but this number changes each year.
  • Best For: Individuals expecting to be in a higher tax bracket in retirement or seeking tax-free withdrawals.

Solo 401(k) (One-Participant 401(k) or Individual 401(k):

  • Contribution Method: Designed for self-employed individuals, offering higher contribution limits than traditional IRAs and SEP IRAs. Both employer and employee can make contributions.
  • Best For: Self-employed individuals seeking higher contribution limits and tax-deferred savings options.

For best results, you should learn about the features and eligibility requirements of each retirement account option. This will help you pick the best account for tax savings and financial security in retirement.

Tax Saving Strategies for Retirement:

Delaying Social Security Benefits:

  • Delaying your Social Security benefits beyond your full retirement age can significantly increase your monthly payments. If you delay claiming Social Security past full retirement age, your benefit will go up by around 8% each year. Waiting to claim Social Security can increase your benefits in the long run, giving you more money for retirement.

Roth Conversions:

  • Roth conversions move money from a traditional IRA or employer retirement plan to a Roth IRA. While you’ll pay taxes on the amount converted, this strategy can help you manage your tax liability in retirement.
  • Roth IRAs let you withdraw money in retirement without paying taxes, so you can keep more of your retirement savings. Moving money to a Roth IRA gradually can help you have a tax-friendly income in retirement.

Tax-Efficient Withdrawal Strategies:

  • Implementing tax-efficient withdrawal strategies can help you make the most of your retirement savings. For example, you may consider withdrawing funds from taxable accounts first, allowing tax-advantaged accounts like Roth IRAs or Roth 401(k)s to continue growing tax-free. Waiting to withdraw money from tax-deferred accounts in retirement can lower taxes and make savings last longer.

Managing Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs):

  • Once you reach age 72 (or 70½ for those born before July 1, 1949), you’re required to start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans. Failure to take RMDs can result in significant tax penalties. To handle RMDs well, calculate the required yearly distribution and plan withdrawals strategically to lower taxes. If you have more than one retirement account, you can choose which account to take money from to save on taxes.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs):

  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have three tax benefits. The money you put in is tax-deductible. You do not pay taxes on any earnings you make.
  • Taking out money for medical costs is tax-free. While people typically associate HSAs with healthcare costs, they can also use them as a valuable retirement savings vehicle.
  • If you can contribute to an HSA, try to put in as much as you can. Use the account to save for healthcare costs in retirement. By leveraging the tax benefits of an HSA, you can supplement your retirement income while minimizing taxes.

Charitable Giving Strategies:

  • Charitable giving can be an effective tax-saving strategy in retirement. When you donate stocks, bonds, or real estate to charity, you may not need to pay capital gains taxes. Additionally, you can receive a tax deduction on your tax return.
  • Additionally, qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) allow individuals age 70½ or older to make tax-free distributions from their IRAs directly to eligible charities. Include charitable donations in your retirement plan to support causes you value and lower your taxes!

These are just a few examples of tax-saving strategies you can employ as you approach retirement. It’s important to review your finances and goals with a financial advisor or tax expert. They can help you create a retirement plan which will save you money on taxes and secure your financial future.

Age-Based Retirement Planning Priorities

Retirement Saving Plan In Your 20s and 30s:

  • Focus on making maximum contributions to retirement accounts and establishing an emergency fund.
  • Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans and consider investing in a diversified portfolio.

Retirement Saving Plan In Your 40s and 50s:

  • Review retirement savings goals and adjust contributions accordingly.
  • Consider catch-up contributions to retirement accounts and reassess investment strategies to align with retirement objectives.

Retirement Saving Plan In Your 60s and Beyond:

  • Develop a comprehensive retirement income plan that includes Social Security, pensions, and investment withdrawals.
  • Consider long-term care insurance and estate planning strategies to protect assets and minimize tax liabilities for heirs.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is there a tax incentive for retirement savings?

The Saver’s Credit rewards eligible individuals for saving money in retirement accounts, such as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit.

For example, if you’re a married couple filing jointly with a combined income up to $39,500, you may receive a credit of up to 50% of your retirement contributions, up to $2,000 per person.

How to contribute to retirement savings for tax reduction?

You can contribute to retirement savings accounts such as traditional IRAs or 401(k) plans to reduce taxable income and lower your tax liability.

For instance, contributing $6,000 to a traditional IRA can reduce your taxable income by $6,000, potentially resulting in significant tax savings.

How Much Can You Deduct in Taxes for Retirement Savings?

The amount you can deduct for retirement savings depends on factors such as your income and filing status. For instance, if you’re under 50 years old, you can contribute up to $6,000 to a traditional IRA and deduct the full amount from your taxable income if you’re a single filer with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $66,000 or less.

Does Saving Money for Retirement Give You a Tax Break?

Yes, saving money for retirement can provide tax breaks by reducing taxable income or qualifying for tax credits.

For example, contributing to a 401(k) plan reduces your taxable income for the year, resulting in immediate tax savings. Additionally, contributions to retirement plans such as IRAs may qualify you for the Saver’s Credit, further reducing your tax bill.

Does a 401k Count as Retirement Savings for Taxes?

Yes, contributions to a 401(k) plan are considered retirement savings and can provide tax benefits. For example, if you contribute $10,000 to your 401(k) in a year, that amount is deducted from your taxable income for the year, reducing your tax liability.

Do Defined Benefit Plans Qualify for Retirement Savings Tax Credits?

Defined benefit plans, which provide a specified monthly benefit at retirement, may not qualify for retirement savings tax credits like the Saver’s Credit. However, contributions to these plans may still be deductible, depending on the plan and individual circumstances.

How does the Federal Tax System Encourage Saving for Retirement?

The federal tax system encourages saving for retirement by offering various incentives such as tax-deferred or tax-free growth on retirement account contributions. For example, contributions to traditional IRAs or 401(k) plans grow tax-deferred until withdrawal, allowing your savings to compound more effectively over time. Additionally, tax credits like the Saver’s Credit provide direct incentives for retirement savings by reducing your tax bill.

Key Takeaways

Understanding the various tax credits, incentives, and strategies available for retirement savings is crucial for optimizing your tax savings during retirement. By leveraging these opportunities effectively and seeking professional guidance, you can ensure that your retirement savings plan is both tax-efficient and financially sound, providing you with peace of mind and financial security in your golden years. Whether you’re contributing to employer-sponsored plans like 401(k)s, opening an IRA, or exploring other retirement account options, making informed decisions about your retirement savings can lead to significant tax savings over time.

Remember, tax laws and regulations may change over time, so it’s essential to stay informed and periodically review your retirement plan with a financial advisor or tax professional to ensure you’re taking full advantage of available tax-saving opportunities. By taking proactive steps to optimize your retirement savings strategy, you can enjoy a comfortable and financially secure retirement while minimizing your tax burden along the way.

As you embark on your retirement planning journey, keep these key takeaways in mind:

  • Maximize contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts.
  • Take advantage of tax credits and incentives for retirement savings.
  • Consider a diversified investment strategy to minimize tax liability.
  • Stay informed about changes in tax laws and regulations.
  • Consult with a financial advisor or tax professional for personalized guidance.

By following these principles and staying proactive in your retirement planning efforts, you can maximize your tax savings and build a solid foundation for a financially secure future.

For personalized guidance and expert advice on tax savings and retirement planning, consult with the experienced professionals at Boxelder Consulting. Our team of tax and retirement experts is dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of retirement planning and optimize your financial future.

With proactive planning and strategic decision-making, you can embark on a fulfilling retirement journey with confidence and peace of mind.

Contact Boxelder Consulting today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a secure and prosperous retirement.


Group 28 Created with Sketch.

About the Author

A young professional standing by Colorado's Front Range

Mason Turner

Director of Accounting

Mason is Boxelder's Director of Accounting, and the head of our office in Wichita, Kansas. He graduated from McPherson College with dual majors in Sociology and Psychology, and a minor in Business. Mason’s been the Director of Accounting at Boxelder for over two years now, managing the workload for the accounting department and handling client relationships. Mason loves the culture at Boxelder, and loves helping people in need of tax advice. He married his wife in August of 2019, and they have two cats and two dogs. Mason enjoys sports, spending time with friends and family, and learning new things.

Group 28 Created with Sketch.

Take the Next Step

Get a free, no strings attached, thorough analysis of your tax liabilities.

Request a Consultation