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People are living longer than before, leading many to ask: “How long could my retirement really last?” In generations past, retirement represented a relatively short period of time in most peoples' lives. They would work until they were 60 or 65 and then live perhaps a few more years before passing away.
But this has become a thing of the past. Today, some retirees could live for as long as another 30 years after they finish with their careers. Many of them are now travelling around the world, starting new businesses, or doing charity work.
The answer to this question will depend upon many factors, such as your projected longevity, financial resources, and current health. If you come from a family of long-lived forebearers, then you may have a good chance of living that long yourself. If you smoke or drink heavily, then your lifespan may not last as long as it would if you quit doing those things.
Thanks to advances in medicine, technology, and wellness, people's lifespans are longer than before. The National Vital Statistics Report from the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that the average American's lifespan has increased by 30 years over the past century.
Uncle Sam can be one of your key partners in your retirement saving. If you have money in a traditional IRA or an employer-sponsored retirement plan, then that money automatically receives tax-deferred status in the eyes of the IRS. Other accounts like SIMPLE IRAs and SEP-IRAs also benefit from this tax-favorable treatment.
Generally, your contributions to those accounts are tax-deductible. The money inside the account grows tax-deferred, or without taxes on the earnings over time, as long as withdrawals aren’t taken.
But you can’t enjoy this tax-deferred growth forever. Required minimum distributions are one way that Uncle Sam ultimately collects his tax dues.
Once you reach age 70.5, the IRS sets required minimum distributions (or RMDs) for you. You will be required to start pulling a certain amount of money out of your traditional IRAs and qualified plan balances every year. The same goes for other kinds of IRAs with pre-tax money status. And this money will be taxed at your top marginal tax bracket, regardless of how long it's been in the account.
There is no capital gains treatment available for traditional IRAs and qualified plans, save for one exception. The sale of company stock held inside a 401(k) plan can be spun off and sold separately under the Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) rule.
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