5 Strategies for Increasing Tax-Free Money in Retirement Using a Self-Directed Solo 401(k)

Updated: Apr 23

The Daily CPA recently published my article: 5 Strategies for Increasing Tax-Free Money in Retirement Using a Self-Directed Solo 401(k). The full article can be found by clicking on the preceding link, but the excerpt containing the five main strategies can be found here:


Excerpt: 5 Strategies for increasing Roth funds

1. Salary deferral only.

The person can choose to contribute their salary deferral portion directly to the designated Roth account and then put the profit-sharing contribution into the pre-tax account. This might be a good compromise to enjoy some tax deferral benefits now while still creating a pool of tax-free money available in retirement.


2. Salary deferral and profit-sharing.

For people who are not particularly concerned about tax-savings through deferral today and want to increase their tax-free money in retirement as much as possible, they could make Roth salary deferral contributions along with the pre-tax profit-sharing contributions.


They would then convert the profit-sharing contribution to the Roth account and pay the tax on it. The person can then invest all of the funds through their Roth account so that the basis, income, and gain will all be tax-free upon withdrawal.


3. Pre-tax salary deferral and profit-sharing, plus voluntary after-tax.

Contributing after-tax dollars is also a way to maximize, and reach, the contribution limit amount of $57,000 or $63,500 since it can be made in addition to the salary deferral and profit-sharing contributions.


For example, if the person can only contribute $35,000 pre-tax, instead of the full $57,000 amount allowed (assuming they are less than 50 years old) due to income restrictions, they can add $22,000 of voluntary after-tax dollars to reach the limit, and then convert the after-tax money to the Roth account.


This, again, might be a compromise to have both tax deferral today and tax-free money later.


4. Voluntary after-tax only

If the person wants to fully maximize the amount of tax-free money available in retirement, they can contribute the full annual limit (assuming they have the income level to cover it) as a voluntary after-tax contribution and then convert it to the Roth account.


5. In-plan Roth conversion (if the plan is designed to include it)

In addition to funding the account using contributions from net earnings or salary, the account holder can also roll their current retirement account(s), in part or in whole, into the plan to increase the asset class investment diversification potential and tax-free money in retirement.


Any pre-tax account can be used, such as IRAs, SEP IRAs, old 401(k)s, etc., but no pre-existing Roth, after-tax, or HSA account can be rolled into the pre-tax plan. Information from Form 1099-R will need to be used to report the rollover on Form 1040 for the tax year in which the rollover took place.


Once an existing pre-tax account is rolled into the Self-Directed Solo 401(k) plan, the person can convert it to the Roth account and pay the tax on it. Even though the tax obligation is incurred today, the conversion can be a tax-advantaged move in the long run since the account holder will essentially be taxed on the seed (or seedling) instead of the harvest.


Tax considerations

There are tax and timing issues to consider, such as possibly being bumped up to a higher tax bracket and trying to convert funds when the market is down instead of up. When structured properly, however, the account holder can greatly increase the amount of Roth funds available for investment.


This could be particularly useful if the account holder wishes to invest in assets that will have a step up in valuation or have the ability to offset the taxes incurred from the Roth conversion with other tax losses. The account holder will want to consult with their tax advisor and financial advisor before engaging in a rollover or conversion.


The difference in retirement.

The true benefit of an in-plan conversion of pre-tax accounts will come once...

For the complete article, click here.



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