6 Steps to Avoid Singing the Retirement Tax Blues

 6 Steps to Avoid Singing the Retirement Tax Blues
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Perhaps you have service retired pay, Social Security, retirement accounts, or other investment income and pensions. The lower tax rates under the recent tax reform end in 2026, which means you can take advantage of lower rates through 2025.

Here's what you can do to reduce the tax burden. 

  • Delay your Social Security until age 70; start retirement account withdrawals early. Not all Social Security income is taxed, but traditional retirement account withdrawals are, besides non-deductible contributions.

[RELATED: When Should You Start Taking Social Security Benefits?]

  • Use retirement accounts to sustain you in your early retired years. Spend down your retirement accounts so your future required minimum distributions (RMDs) will be less. Social Security can start at age 70 and take the place of the reduced retirement accounts. Besides maximum Social Security monthly income, you'll get the greatest survivor benefit.
  • Convert traditional retirement accounts to Roths when career paychecks end and before Social Security payments begin. Manage the conversion amounts within the lowered tax brackets.

[RELATED: Why Convert to a Roth IRA?]

  • Use a qualified longevity annuity contract and purchase a delayed income annuity with a chunk of retirement account assets. This reduces a retirement account balance immediately to minimize RMDs. 
  • Donate your RMD and more to charity. IRA qualified charitable distribution withdrawal is not taxable.
  • Switch interest-bearing instruments to investments with tax-qualified dividends/cap-gains, and use investments that minimize dividend and cap-gain distributions.

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About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®
Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Ostrom is MOAA's former Program Director, Financial & Benefits Education/Counseling