180 S. Prospect Street

Suite 250

Tustin, CA 92780

Toll Free: (800) 927-2829

Direct: (714) 544-1844

Fax: (714) 544-4836

Email: answers@issuesonaging.com

My SeniorCare Advisors

IRA's For Offsprings: A Head-Start On A Child's Retirement

Parents typically encourage their children to save for college, for a house, or simply for a rainy day. A child's retirement, however, is a less common early savings goal. Too many other expenses are at the forefront. Yet, helping to plan for a youngster's retirement is a move that astute families are making. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for income-earning minors and young adults offer a head-start on life-long financial planning.

Parents typically encourage their children to save for college, for a house, or simply for a rainy day. A child's retirement, however, is a less common early savings goal. Too many other expenses are at the forefront. Yet, helping to plan for a youngster's retirement is a move that astute families are making. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for income-earning minors and young adults offer a head-start on life-long financial planning.

Traditional and Roth IRAs

Two types of individual retirement accounts are the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. To contribute to an IRA account, whether it's a traditional or a Roth, an individual must have earned income. In general, the maximum amount that can be deposited in either type of IRA is $3,000 in 2004; $4,000 in 2005 through 2007.

Contributions to a traditional IRA are tax deductible. Amounts earned in a traditional IRA are not taxed until a distribution is made. If money is withdrawn from a traditional IRA before the individual reaches age 59 1/2, a 10 percent penalty applies to the principal. Mandatory withdrawals are required when the individual reaches age 70 1/2.

Contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax deductible, but all earnings are tax-free when the money is withdrawn from the account, if certain requirements are met. Tax-free withdrawals are a big advantage to the Roth IRA that will likely outweigh the lack of a tax deduction on contributions. Qualified distributions from a Roth IRA are not included in the individual's income if a five-year holding period and certain other requirements are met; otherwise, the 10 percent penalty applies. Unlike the traditional IRA, individuals can make contributions to a Roth IRA even after age 70 1/2.

Penalty flexibility

Both the traditional and the Roth IRAs offer some flexibility on the 10 percent penalty. Early withdrawals, without penalty, are allowed if the money is used for:

--College expenses;

--First home purchase (up to $10,000);

--Medical insurance in case of unemployment for a certain amount of time; or

--Expenses attributable to disability (Roth IRA).

Although designed for retirement planning, flexibility in how the money can be used makes IRAs very attractive for young family members.

Kid with a job

In order to contribute to an IRA, however, the child or young adult must have earned income. In other words, the kid needs a W-2, a 1099 or some other "proof" that wages were earned. Although occasional baby-sitting or lawn-mowing generally doesn't count, the money made on those jobs could qualify as earned income if adequate receipts and records are kept.

Working for the parents

Some moms and dads, who own their own businesses, are taking the "kiddy IRA" concept a step further: their sons and daughters come to work for the family business. The child earns income, making him or her eligible to contribute to an IRA. The parents, as their employers must pay employment tax and issue a W-2, but they can also make a business deduction for the child's wages, just like for any other employee. Parents should be mindful that the wage their child earns for the work performed is comparable to the going rate. If the child's wage is too large, the IRS will disallow the deduction.

Let's make a deal

The tough part of the plan may be getting the young person to "lock away" his or her hard-earned cash. After all, retirement is much harder to imagine compared to more pressing, front-burner issues like college expenses or a car. Some parents, however, are convincing their kids to put their earnings to work for their future in an IRA by promising to match their child's pay as an extra incentive to save. For example, if Susan earns $3,000, her dad promises to put $3,000 in her IRA. Susan keeps the money she made. There's no rule that restricts the origin of the IRA contribution, so long as the IRA owner earned at least that amount and the contribution doesn't exceed the cap for that year.

Conclusion

Individual retirement accounts for children and young adults are a growing part of family financial planning. A potential hazard, however, is that the money in the IRA belongs to the child. The child, or young adult, has the right to do whatever they wish with the IRA and its assets, including making a withdrawal for a new car or exotic trip. Parents do not "own" the IRA, even if they contributed the dollars as a match to their child's earnings. Families who utilize IRAs for their offspring will have to consider the risk and stress to the youngsters that the money is better off in the IRA. Through investing in an IRA, a young person's earnings from working part-time at the local ice cream parlor, or a summer job loading trucks, can have lasting effects.

Please feel free to contact this office for advice more specific to your family situation.

If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.