A Roth IRA is one of the best ways to minimize taxes, but many people earn too much to qualify for a Roth. As we mentioned in our recent blog post about Roth IRAs, eligibility begins to phase out if you make more than $125,000 (for singles) and $198,000 (for those married filing jointly).
In that same post, we talked about the backdoor Roth conversion, which acts as a kind of loophole to allow anyone, regardless of their income level, to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.
Not long ago, another alternative for high earners to minimize taxes while maximizing income came up: the so-called “Rich Person’s Roth.”
How Does the “Rich Person’s Roth” Work?
Despite the nickname, the “Rich Person’s Roth” isn’t a retirement account at all. Instead, it’s a cash value life insurance policy that offers tax-free earnings on investments as well as tax-free withdrawals.
In certain cases, it’s possible to use the cash value of these policies to create a guaranteed stream of income, possibly for the rest of your life.
Another advantage is there are also no annual contribution maximums. Depending on how the policy is set up, you may be able to contribute an endless amount of money each year, which will not only grow tax-free, but will also be tax-free upon withdrawal. That means your tax bracket won’t be affected.
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Considerations to Make
Since the core product behind the “Rich Person’s Roth” is still a life insurance policy, your overall health matters. The worse your health is, the higher the cost of the life insurance will be. Folks in poor health may not be the best candidates for this strategy as they may end up underwater on the cost of the policy.
Another consideration is the interest rate the insurance company charges on withdrawals from the policy. In order to get your money from the policy, you must take a loan against the death benefit from the insurance company, which will most likely charge you interest. Policies with zero net loans credit your interest payments as if the funds are still held in the policy. This acts almost like a wash on your interest costs.
Do You Have to Be Rich to Benefit?
High earners aren’t the only people who can benefit from the “Rich Person’s Roth.” Older workers in good health who are trying to play catch-up on their retirement savings and those who are already hitting annual contribution maximums in other retirement savings vehicles could also benefit.
Before you purchase any insurance policy, be sure to make yourself familiar with all of the details and potential costs – and speak with a financial advisor first.
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