With only about two weeks left in 2022, time is running out for you to make progress this year toward your retirement goals. Many retirement-focused tools have hard year-end deadlines, and missing them means you completely miss out on your chance to take advantage of that tool for the year. Even worse, in some cases, Uncle Sam could severely penalize you for not doing what needs to be done by the time Dec. 31, 2022, comes to a close.
With that in mind, these four year-end retirement actions are moves that make great sense to make by Dec. 31, 2022. If you want — or need — to take advantage of them, now really is your last, best chance to do so.
No. 1: Take your required minimum distributions
If you're 72 or older in 2022, you must take sufficient distributions from your traditional IRAs for 2022. In addition, beginning at age 72, you must take sufficient distributions from any employer-sponsored retirement accounts unless you are still employed by that company and are not a 5% owner.
Generally speaking, those required minimum distributions (RMDs) must be completed by Dec. 31 unless you happen to be turning 72 in 2022. If that's the case, you have until April 1, 2023, to take your 2022 RMD. If you don't take your required distribution in time, Uncle Sam will tax you at a whopping 50% of what you should have withdrawn but didn't. That makes it absolutely critical to get your RMD on time.
No. 2: Get what you can into your 401(k)
To get your own money into your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan, you must contribute it via your paycheck. For it to count as a 2022 contribution, it must be completed by Dec. 31.
If you're under age 50, you can usually contribute up to $20,500 throughout 2022; if you're over age 50, the amount increases to $27,000. Since the money must be contributed from your paycheck, it's unlikely you'll have a large enough end-of-year paycheck to go from $0 to completely maxed out. Still, get what you can into the plan. And by starting up your automatic paycheck contributions now, you can get yourself on a path for much bigger contributions in 2023 and beyond.
No. 3: Knock out any Roth IRA conversions you want for the year
Roth IRAs are by far the best type of account for your long-term retirement investments. Two ways to get money into a Roth IRA are via direct contributions or conversions from other qualified retirement accounts. If you're directly contributing to a Roth IRA, you have until April 18, 2023, to have it count toward 2022. If you're converting money from another qualified retirement account to a Roth IRA, you need to do it by Dec. 31 to have it count toward this year.
Roth IRA conversions are typically taxable, especially if you're converting from a traditional 401(k) plan. As a result, it's important to hit the year you are aiming for to put the tax burden where you expect it to be.
No. 4: Consider making retirement moves with slightly later deadlines
As mentioned above, you have until April 18, 2023, to make an IRA contribution count toward 2022. In addition, if you're eligible to contribute to a health savings account (HSA) for 2022, that contribution deadline is also April 18, 2023.
While primarily useful for healthcare costs, HSAs can also be used as part of your retirement plan. There are two reasons for this. First, seniors tend to face higher healthcare costs than younger people, and any money still in an HSA can be used to cover those costs.
Second, once you turn 65, you can take withdrawals from your HSA for any reason without facing a penalty on top of taxes. That withdrawal strategy makes them behave similarly to traditional IRAs, allowing HSAs to play a role in general retirement funding.
Time is running out — get started now
Three of these four moves require you to take action by Dec. 31 to have it qualify for 2022. Miss your deadline and you miss your chance to make it work. If you want to make these year-end retirement moves, you must get started now.
Time is rapidly running out, and once the window closes on 2022, it will be closed for good. So make today the day you get your plans in place to get your retirement on track for a better future.
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