Backdoor Roth

Tax Season Tips with Ed Slott

With tax season in full swing, it’s time for some much needed tax tips, dos and don’ts, and sage advice about IRAs and backdoor conversions.

As crazy as this might sound, you may want to enjoy this tax year while it lasts, because come next year, it’s going to get a whole lot crazier with all the changes to the tax code.

To help us make sense of it all we're joined by the Ed Slott, the ultimate tax guru, and founder of IRA Help.

While almost all of the changes go into effect next tax season, one big change occurs this year. If you itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A, the new law allows you to deduct qualified medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI) – that’s a lower threshold than the previous 10 percent. (The level returns to 10 percent beginning January 1, 2019.)

Medical care expenses is a big category and you should check out the IRS list, because it includes payments of fees to doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nontraditional medical practitioners, as well as insurance premiums you paid for policies that cover medical care or for a qualified long-term care insurance policy.

With new withholding tables in effect, the amount may not be enough to cover a lot of taxpayers, especially those in high tax states who could lose certain deductions. To be safe, at least for the first year of the new law, you may want to assume that your tax liability will be at least the same as this year. To avoid a penalty, you can pay 100 percent of your income tax liability from 2017 or 110 percent if you earn more than $150,000.

To get a better sense of your situation, be sure to check out the revised IRS withholding tax calculator on

And oh yeah, once again, due to a Washington DC holiday (Emancipation Day), the filing deadline is delayed. Procrastinators, mark April 17th, rather than April 15th as your drop-dead date.

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

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"Better Off" theme music is by Joel Goodman,

#261 Tax Prep Boot Camp with Ed Slott


Ed Slott CPA is a nationally recognized IRA expert, television personality and best-selling author who has dedicated his life to educating Americans on saving for retirement and the intricacies of IRAs.  He was named “The Best Source for IRA Advice” by The Wall Street Journal and is the author of numerous best-selling books. His web site He started our conversation with an overview of what has changed for this year's tax filing season (not too much) and then explained why well-prepared taxpayers should not be afraid of an audit. (NOTE: Ed says that the key to the entire  tax preparation process is to keep flawless records and documentation throughout the year!)

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Ed also focused on the need for retirees to shift gears in retirement. While there may be some lucrative opportunities, there are also challenges/minefields, like those thorny stealth taxes, which can trip us up.

The old favorites include the whopping 50 percent penalty for not taking your required minimum distribution (RMD) and not making estimated tax payments, but last year's change about IRA rollovers is also causing a new headache among some retirees.

As much as everyone complains about paying taxes, Ed says that tax rates are still the lowest they have been in years. That means that now could be a good time to move funds from tax-deferred vehicles, like 401 (k)s and IRAs into tax free Roth IRAs. Ed also noted that the very best retirement strategy is to work as long as you can. Extra income can prevent you from dipping into your nest egg; with earned income, you can continue to make Roth and spousal Roth IRA contributions (though once you turn 70 1/2, you can NOT make traditional IRA contributions); you may be able to delay your RMDs from your company-sponsored retirement plan; and most importantly, working longer will help you combat the reality of longevity!

Thanks to everyone who participated this week, especially Mark, the Best Producer in the World and the worst LinkedIn User. Here's how to contact us:

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