Withdrawing Money After FIRE

Stress Testing Analysis Initial Results

Well after a great deal of work, I have finally extended the Tax and Penalty Minimization (TPM) method to be able to go down to $0! Which I’ve been working on for several weeks.

Unfortunately I ran out of time to do much of any stress testing analysis, but I did run it for a couple scenarios and compared the results to the Traditional method for those scenarios – and the results are very promising!

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Stress Testing Analysis Update

Well I’ve gotten a bunch done this week, but unfortunately I don’t have much in the way of results to show for it.

This week I’ve focused a few different things: 

  • A correction to the tax calculation of long term cap gains – which fortunately did not significantly affect any results I’ve published previously 
  • Extending the traditional withdrawal method to allow it to go down to $0, as part of the upcoming stress testing analysis
  • A major refactor of the Tax and Penalty Minimization (TPM) method code
  • Starting the process of extending the TPM method to go down to zero, as part of the upcoming stress testing analysis

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Is It Worth Using Lower Tax Brackets To Reduce RMDs Later?

In the previous post, I described how the Tax and Penalty Minimization (TPM) method can greatly reduce your Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) and thus your total lifetime tax bill – resulting in significantly higher final total assets.

But as I wrote that post, one question kept popping into my head: instead of striving for a $0 tax bill until age 72 (as is the default in the TPM method), could it be worth it to pull more from your pre-tax accounts (beyond the standard deduction) and thus pay a small amount of taxes earlier in your retirement to further reduce your pre-tax account balance and thus reduce RMDs and taxes after age 72 (soon 75)?

Let’s find out. 

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Reduce RMDs by Millions And Save BIG in Taxes After FIRE

In previous posts, I outlined an early retirement withdrawal method called the Tax and Penalty Minimization method, and I discussed Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) that can begin at age 72 (and soon 75 it looks like) and can result in significant taxable income and thus taxes.

In this post, we’re going to show just how much better the TPM method is than the traditional withdrawal method for reducing RMDs and thus your tax bill. Especially if you’re an early retiree and can take advantage of decades of good tax planning.

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The IRS Won’t Wait Forever: Required Minimum Distributions

If you’re focused on FIRE (Financial Independence and Retiring Early), it’s easy to sweep topics like Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) under the rug. Those don’t start until age 72! That’s decades from now!

But an early retiree is in a unique position to take advantage of decades of tax planning – which means we can hopefully minimize taxes over our ENTIRE LIFE, including the span when we’re forced to take RMDs.

But before we dive into how to minimize lifetime taxes that includes RMDs for an early retiree, we need a good understanding of what they are and how they work.

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How to Pay No Taxes on Social Security Income

In the previous post, I discussed how to compute the taxable amount of your social security income (SSI). Which is unfortunately a bit complicated, but we got it done.

The next step is to figure out how to pay no (or minimal) taxes on that taxable amount of your social security, which is vital for the Tax and Penalty Minimization (TPM) method described in the Withdrawing Money After FIRE post.

You’re probably thinking “uh… doesn’t the definition of taxable mean you’ll pay taxes on it?”

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Withdrawing Money After FIRE

At one point in our journey to Financial Independence (FI), I thought to myself, “How are we going to withdraw from all these different accounts we have? Especially once we’re FIRE, versus just FI (and still working). Is there some kind of best order? How much will taxes affect things?” 

I pretty quickly found a lot of info online, but I was far from convinced that any of the methods I found were really optimal. Especially since we have some less common asset classes, like a 457(b) account

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