Know the tax consequences of borrowing from your 401(k) plan

hen you borrow from your 401(k), you become both a borrower and a lender. Whether that’s a good idea depends on your personal financial situation – and in the process of making the decision about lending money to yourself, you may have questions regarding the tax consequences.

For instance, though you probably know the initial borrowing has no federal income tax effect, you might be wondering whether the interest you pay will be deductible. In general, the answer is no. That’s true even when you use 401(k) loan proceeds for your home.

Ordinary loan repayments are not taxable events either. That is, you don’t have to pick up the interest you repay into your account as taxable income. And, though you’re increasing your 401(k) account with the principal portion of each payment, that amount is not considered a contribution. You can still make pre-tax contributions up to the annual limit ($17,500 for a traditional 401(k) during 2013, plus an additional $5,500 when you’re age 50 or older).

What if you default on the 401(k) loan? The balance of your loan is considered a distribution to you, and you’ll have to report it as ordinary income on your federal tax return. In addition, when you’re under age 59½, a 10% early-withdrawal penalty typically applies.

Being both a 401(k) borrower and a lender can lead to tax surprises. Give us a call to make sure you have the whole story before you arrange a 401(k) loan.

David Bradsher, CPA

Kids & Money – Guide your children to financial maturity

Preschool – Skills to Teach * Identify coins and bills; learn what each is worth. * Understand that you can’t buy everything; choices are necessary. * Save money in a piggy bank.

Grade School – Skills to Teach * Read price tags; learn comparison shopping. * Do money arithmetic; make change. * Manage an allowance; use it to pay for some of child’s own purchases. * Open a savings account and learn about interest. * Participate in family financial discussions about major purchases, vacation choices, etc.

Teens – Skills to Teach * Work to earn money. * Budget for larger purchases. * Learn to use a checking account. * Learn about investing – stocks, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, etc. * Share in financial planning (and saving) for college.

College/Young Adult – Skills to Teach * Learn about borrowing money (interest, default, etc.). * Use credit card judiciously. * Participate in family estate planning discussions.

Knowing about money – how to earn it, use it, invest it, and share it – is a critical life skill. It’s never too early to start teaching your children about financial matters.

David Bradsher, CPA

Have you changed your mind about a Roth conversion?

It turns out you can go back after all – at least when it comes to last year’s decision to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth. The question is, do you want to?

You might, if your circumstances have changed. For example, say the value of the assets in your new Roth account is currently less than when you made the conversion. Changing your mind could save tax dollars.

Recharacterizing your Roth conversion lets you go back in time, as if the conversion never happened. You’ll have to act soon, though, because the window for undoing a 2012 Roth conversion closes October 15, 2013.

Before that date, you have the opportunity to undo all or part of last year’s conversion. After October 15, you can change your mind once more and put the money back in a Roth. That might be a good choice when you’re recharacterizing because of a reduction in the value of the account. Just remember you’ll have to wait at least 30 days to convert again.

Give us a call for information on Roth recharacterization rules. We’ll help you figure out if going back is a good idea.

David Bradsher, CPA

Business tax reminder

As year-end approaches, don’t overlook this option to reduce your business taxes for 2013: accelerated write-offs for business asset purchases. For example, the Section 179 immediate expensing deduction lets you write off the cost of assets you purchase and place in service this year, including vehicles, equipment, and software. For 2013, the maximum Section 179 deduction is $500,000. Another example is the “bonus” depreciation deduction, which allows you to expense up to 50% of the cost of new assets, including those that might not qualify for Section 179.

David Bradsher, CPA

Autumn tax tip

Review your tax deductions for 2013 while there’s still time to manage them for a lower tax bill this year. The standard deduction for 2013 is $12,200 for married couples filing a joint return and $6,100 for single taxpayers. If your deductions are close to the threshold, consider accelerating deductible expenses. For example, you can add sales tax paid on a new vehicle to the IRS standard amount when claiming the itemized deduction for state and local sales tax.

David Bradsher, CPA