By Mike Miles
May 9th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. Based on a reading of Internal Revenue Service Publication 721, it appears to say that since the CSRS and FERS retirement systems are considered “eligible retirement plans” you could roll over a distribution (including a regular annuity payment) into another IRA and defer the taxes, or into a Roth IRA and pay the taxes immediately. If this is the case, the normal IRS limitation on contributions to IRAs and Roth IRAs are bypassed. Am I reading this correctly?
A. From IRS Publication 721: “Distributions eligible for rollover treatment. If you receive a refund of your CSRS or FERS contributions when you leave government service, you can roll over any interest you receive on the contributions.You cannot roll over any part of your CSRS or FERS annuity payments.”
April 24th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am retired CSRS. I was born Nov. 15, 1942. Therefore, I’ll be 70½ on May 15.
1. When will I have to start taking payments from my Thrift Savings Plan account?
2. Can I wait until January to March 2014 before I get my first payment?
3. What is the minimum I will have to take?
4. I do not want a total lump-sum payment.
5. Do I have to take a monthly payment, or can I get my minimum payment once a year?
6. What form do I need to submit to get minimal payments each year?
7. Can you provide the form?
A. You are required to take your first withdrawal by April 1, 2014. This will be the required minimum distribution for 2013. You are then required to take the 2014 RMD by end of the day on Dec. 31, 2014. The RMD amount is calculated for each year and will likely be different each year. The amount is calculated using the method described in IRS Publication 590. The TSP will calculate the RMD amount for you and send you monthly payments to meet the requirement. Use Form TSP-70 to request the monthly payments based on your life expectancy. You may take one lump-sum distribution from your TSP account and may only take monthly payments after that.
April 24th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have more than 20 years of service as a federal law enforcement officer and will turn 55 in 2014. I plan to retire under FERS from my agency this year, before my age 55, and immediately (with no break in service) become re-employed on a full-time basis with another federal agency. I understand that my salary during the period of re-employment will be offset by the amount of my FERS annuity, and that retirement deductions (including Thrift Savings Plan contributions) will be made from my re-employment salary. I understand further that I would earn a supplemental annuity upon termination of re-employment if I am re-employed for more than a year, and that I could alternatively elect a redetermined annuity if I am re-employed for at least five years.
However, if my re-employment terminates before I reach age 59½ (but well after 55), and I wish to make withdrawals from my TSP account at that time, how will the Internal Revenue Service calculate my “separation from service” date? That is, will the IRS consider that I “retired” in 2013, prior to age 55, and thus apply the 10 percent penalty for early TSP withdrawals? (That would effectively force me to lock myself into the life expectancy withdrawal option for a full five years after the termination of my re-employment period.) Or, would the IRS determine that I “retired” on the date of the termination of my period of re-employment – after age 55 – enabling me to withdraw from my TSP account penalty-free?
A. To the best of my knowledge, your TSP account, if it is kept going through the transition in federal employment, will be eligible, in its entirety, for penalty-free withdrawal under the “age 55 exemption.” But, you should consult a qualified tax accountant before you make any plans.
April 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. When I retire, I will be 59½ and will have 30 years of service at the Postal Service. I will not have any earned income from that point on. I understand federal and state taxes will be taken out of my FERS annuity and any money I take out of my Thrift Savings Plan. Will I also have Social Security deducted from these two sources? Also, will my special retirement supplement and — when I turn 62, my SSI benefit — also be subject to federal and state taxes?
A. Mike: Your TSP withdrawals are subject to income taxation, but no employment taxes, like Social Security, Medicare or unemployment insurance.
Reg: Your special retirement supplement will be treated as ordinary income. To find out to what extent your Social Security will be taxable, see IRS Publication 721.
April 9th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. So if I follow all the rules related to my current Thrift Savings Plan account, and I begin making systematic withdrawals under the annuity factor method at age 55:
1. Can I contribute to my new employer’s 401(k) while drawing from my TSP? (I may want to take a downscaled job and subsidize the lower income with my TSP distributions.)
2. Are any Internal Revenue Service restrictions in place regarding my Roth IRA because I am taking distributions from my 401(k) at age 55?
A. Yes, you may contribute to a 401(k) while taking distributions from your TSP account, and no, there are no special rules limiting Roth IRA contributions because you are taking withdrawals from your TSP or 401(k) account. Only the usual income limits apply.
March 21st, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am 66 years old and plan to retire in 2014, at which time I would transfer (convert) my Voluntary Contributions Program monies directly into a newly created Roth IRA. However, I have an existing (non-TSP) Traditional (substantial) IRA (never taxed), and know the Internal Revenue Service will aggregate my Traditional IRA balance for purposes of determining the taxability of this VCP-to-Roth conversion.
If, prior to retirement, I (in 2013) transfer (direct rollover) my Traditional IRA into my existing Thrift Savings Plan account, will those monies now be considered 401(a), and therefore, making my subsequent VCP-to-Roth conversion occur with few tax implications?
A. As I understand the rules, your TSP balance will not be subject to aggregation for the purpose of determining the taxability of your VCP-to-Roth IRA conversion, but you should consult a CPA before going down that path. You may also want to fill in a pro-forma IRS Form 8606 to see how it will look. This is the form used to calculate your tax liability on conversions. Notice that it does not mention an employer-sponsored plan like the TSP anywhere.
March 19th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a letter carrier, age 52, started in 1985 and have 28 years of creditable service.
If I understand what I’ve gleaned from the posts here and the Postal Service were to offer me a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority this year,
1. Would I begin my annuity immediately?
2. Would I have no reductions in calculations of my annuity? (average high-3 x 1 percent x 28)
3. Would I receive credit for half of my sick leave and all of my annual leave? (How are these applied?)
4. Would I receive the special retirement supplement beginning at age 56 (my minimum retirement age), and receive it until I reach age 62?
5. Would I be able to continue carrying my current health and life insurance at non-USPS rates? (I couldn’t find how long these could be carried. Until death?)
6. Could I begin receiving Social Security as early as age 62?
7. Any withdrawal from my Thrift Savings Plan prior to age 59½ would be penalized 10 percent as per Internal Revenue Service regulations? (Can I continue to contribute to TSP after retirement?)
8. As a FERS annuitant, is there no limit to what I can earn after separation from the Postal Service as it pertains to my annuity payment?
9. At age 56 (my MRA), the special retirement supplement from Social Security would begin and would be subject to yearly income limits. Would supplement payments be reduced by approximately $1 for every $2 I earned above that year’s Social Security income limit?
10. At age 65, I’d be eligible for Medicare parts A and B? (Would this affect my health insurance coverage through Federal Employees Health Benefits?)
11. Would there be cost-of-living increases at any point for my annuity?
12. Is there a date during the year that maximizes the benefits of retirement?
Did I get this right, and are there any other things I should know before considering a VERA if it is offered?
A. Reg: 1. Yes.
3. Yes. Half of your unused hours of sick leave would be added to any hours of service that were left over when your annuity was computed. Any additional months created would increase the amount of your annuity. Any unused annual leave would be paid to you in a lump sum at your current hourly rate.
5. Yes. And those enrollments would continue until your death.
Mike: 7. You will be subject to the early withdrawal penalty until you reach age 59½ unless you can qualify for one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of the notice: https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf. You may not contribute to the TSP after you retire, but you may transfer eligible balances into the TSP from other retirement accounts such as IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.
Tags: 401(k), 403(b), age, annual leave, annuity, catch-up contributions, cost-of-living adjustment, early withdrawal penalty, FERS, health insurance, income, IRA, IRS, life insurance, lump-sum, Medicare, Minimum Retirement Age, Postal Service, sick leave, Social Security, Special Retirement Supplement, TSP, VERA
March 18th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have 27½ years in the Postal Service and I am 52½ years of age. If an early-out comes in the next few months, will I get a penalty for leaving? Do I get my special retirement supplement, or do I have to wait for that? Also, do I get to take my Thrift Savings Plan now, or do I wait for that?
A. Mike: The early-out has no effect on the Internal Revenue Service early withdrawal penalty. You will be subject to the penalty until you reach age 59½ unless you qualify for one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of this notice: https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf
Reg: If you were offered an opportunity to retire early, you have the age and service needed to accept it. If you did, you wouldn’t be subject to the age penalty and you’d be entitled to the special retirement supplement when you reach your minimum retirement age, which is 56.
March 11th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I retired Dec. 29 at the age of 70 years and five months. I plan to take my Thrift Savings Plan money out, according to the Internal Revenue Service required minimum distribution table, which I understand I must begin no later than April 1, 2014, the year after the year I turn 70½. However, I may decide to take my one partial withdrawal, as well, and at the latest possible time. I’m pretty sure I read that I must make that withdrawal option effective by Dec. 31, 2013, the year I turn 70½, but now I can’t come up with that reference in writing. Can you verify that is the case? And if it is, do I need to begin the monthly payments at the same time?
A. There is no deadline for making the partial withdrawal.
March 5th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a retired federal employee, having worked for the Social Security Administration. I have funds accumulated in the Thrift Savings Plans. I am getting close to age 70 and am considering the purchase of a life annuity with some or all of those funds, and know that those payments will be taxed by the Internal Revenue Service. But what about the states — particularly, for me, Alabama? Are these TSP annuity payments taxable by Alabama?
A. I don’t give state tax advice for each of the 50 states. You should ask an Alabama CPA for specific advice.