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HomeFinance NewsRetired, Earning 5% on Savings, Shocked by Unexpected Tax Liability

Retired, Earning 5% on Savings, Shocked by Unexpected Tax Liability

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The increasing interest rates have led many Americans to invest their cash in high-yield savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money-market accounts. However, this interest-rate bonanza may come with some unintended consequences, particularly for retirees who have more cash on hand. These consequences include pushing retirees into a higher tax bracket, increasing the taxation of Social Security, and incurring surcharges on Medicare premiums. Additionally, individuals who have earned a significant amount of income from their cash investments may face a higher tax bill in the upcoming year. Therefore, it is advisable for retirees to consider paying some of their taxes in advance through quarterly tax payments.

The tax owed on interest income varies based on an individual’s overall income. Given that those concerned with their tax liability are likely paying at least 22% in federal income taxes, the tax on interest income may exceed their capital gains tax. This is particularly important for retirees with a substantial amount of cash, as they could end up paying thousands of dollars in taxes on their interest income. Despite the burden of taxes, some argue that paying tax on investment gains is a positive sign of increased yield.

To minimize the impact of taxes on interest income, individuals can explore alternative investment options. Municipal bonds, although not currently offering high returns, can be triple-tax-free depending on the investment. However, municipal bond income may still be included in the calculation of modified adjusted gross income, affecting Medicare IRMAA surcharges. Treasury bonds are another option since they are usually tax-free at the federal level and sometimes at the state level. Additionally, investing in Treasury ETFs or other cash-equivalent securities can help defer taxes until the assets are sold. Offsetting investment and interest income gains with losses is also a strategy to consider, as well as carrying over losses on tax returns against ordinary income.

In summary, as interest rates rise, the tax implications of cash investments in high-yield savings accounts and other similar vehicles become more significant. Retirees need to be mindful of potential consequences such as moving into a higher tax bracket and incurring additional Medicare surcharges. It is advisable to consider paying taxes in advance, explore alternative investment options, and implement tax-efficient strategies to minimize the impact of interest income on tax liability.

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