What makes the U.S. retirement system a bad example

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Opinion: Here’s a retirement-plan choice you won’t have after 2017
Converting traditional IRA assets into a Roth is a good strategy for clients to enhance their after-tax income in retirement, according to this article on MarketWatch. However, clients can no longer undo Roth conversions once the new tax law takes effect next year. “Once you convert, it’s final and cannot be re-characterized back as you could under previous rules. Contributions to 401(k) remain the same and 'backdoor' Roth IRA funding is still on the table via a non-deductible traditional IRA contribution then converted into a Roth IRA.”
What makes the U.S. retirement system a bad example
A pension expert from the Netherlands says that the U.S. retirement system sets a bad example in securing the golden years of its workforce, according to this article from Bloomberg. "What I saw living in the United States was that so many people not only lost their jobs and houses during the financial crisis, they also lost more than half of their pensions, because their pensions were 401(k)s. These are individualized pensions with high fees," says the expert. "People don’t understand the risks they take, they do not share risks over generations. It makes them extremely vulnerable in an area that is very important for them -- their future life and safeguarding their future life."

How to leverage a backdoor Roth IRA
Although many investors do not qualify to contribute to a Roth IRA because their income exceeds a certain threshold, they can still sock away funds into the account using the backdoor option, according to this article on Kiplinger. This strategy allows them to contribute to a traditional IRA and move the funds to a Roth IRA. The converted amount could be taxable, depending on the deductible and non-deductible contributions they have made. To make the most of the backdoor strategy, clients should hit the maximum contributions and own only one traditional IRA.

You can legally avoid taxes on your Social Security benefits -- Here's how
Retirees will owe taxes on a portion of their Social Security benefits if their combined income exceeds a certain limit, according to this article on Motley Fool. Their combined income includes all their earnings for the year plus 50% of their retirement benefit. To avoid taxation on their benefits, seniors should ensure their combined income is below the threshold. One strategy to reduce the combined income is to convert some of their taxable income into nontaxable earnings. An example of this strategy is to move traditional IRA assets to a Roth account.

This year-end donation strategy could reap big savings for retirees
Retirees who have to take required minimum distributions from their tax-deferred accounts can avoid the tax bite on these withdrawals by donating the RMD amount directly to a charity through qualified charitable distributions, according to this article on CNBC. "By giving to charity this way, you're lowering your income and in effect getting a charitable deduction," says an expert. "If you give to charity already, give the same amount a better way and you'll pay less tax."

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Retirement planning IRAs Roth IRAs Philanthropy Social Security Social Security benefits