Thursday, September 24, 2009

He Taxes Me, He Taxes Me Not Part 2

We received some good questions after last week’s article, “He Taxes Me, He Taxes Me Not.” This week we’re providing the answers.

Based on the way I’m currently investing, I have some questions about SEP IRAs and Roth IRAs. Can I open a SEP Traditional IRA and contribute to this even if I contribute to a Roth IRA? Is there any benefit to having a SEP Roth IRA (I'm not even sure this can be done)? If I can only invest in one type of IRA annually, which is the best alternative – a Roth or SEP Traditional?

-Kent in Atlanta, GA

Hi Kent,

Wow! These are some great questions! Here are some answers:

You can open a SEP IRA and continue contributing to the Roth IRA. The reason for this is that the business contributes to the SEP IRA while the individual contributes to the Roth IRA. I know that seems a little unique because in a sole proprietorship, the business is the individual, but from an IRS perspective, SEP IRA funds come from the business revenues, not the personal income of the individual.

There is no such thing as a SEP Roth IRA; as a matter of fact, the IRS pretty explicitly states that a SEP IRA cannot be in any way, shape, or form associated with a Roth IRA.

If choosing between investing in a Roth or SEP IRA, depending on your anticipated tax bracket in retirement I typically recommend the Roth IRA first, then supplementing with the SEP IRA. All signs are pointing toward higher income tax brackets in the days ahead. While we don’t know what they’ll look like 20 – 30 years from now, we do know that we can build tax free savings by going the Roth route. From a tax liability management perspective, I would always like to take a lower income tax hit today for tax free savings in the future. The SEP IRA defers the tax liability until you withdraw the funds in retirement.

Thanks for your questions, Kent!

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