Talk to Us
Talk to Us

Consult an Agent

  • Why?
  • (please click only once)

  • * = required

Save Print

Tax considerations in retirement

The amount of tax you owe at retirement depends not only on your income, but also on the type of your retirement plan and the timing of your withdrawals; you’ll want to consider retirement strategies that provide tax deferred growth and tax efficiency.

With qualified retirement plans that provide tax deferred accumulation, such as 401(k)s and Traditional IRAs, the money you contribute to the plan is pre-tax, meaning it is not be taxed until you make a withdrawal, often years later. In addition, any growth or gain is also tax-deferred.

Distributions (i.e. mandatory withdrawals) from such qualified plan will, in most cases, begin by April 1st of the year after your turn 70½. The money you receive from distributions is always considered regular (or in IRS terms “ordinary”) income and is taxed at a standard rate. Should you wish to withdraw cash from your retirement plan early (before age 59½), you may be subjected to an additional 10% tax on the amount.

If you have an investment account outside of the tax-deferred retirement accounts discussed above, you should consider investments that are tax-efficient. Tax efficiency, here, refers to how much you earn on an investment in comparison to the portion of the return that’s lost to annual taxes. Tax efficiency can be achieved in various ways. A qualified investment professional and your tax advisor can be a great resource in formulating such strategies.

Municipal bonds (which generate tax-exempt income) and US savings bonds, (which allow you to defer your taxes until your bonds are redeemed), are also considered tax efficient. Interest from municipal bonds are generally exempt from federal income taxes, and in most cases, state and/or local income taxes, so long as the investor resides in the state that issued the bond. However, Alternative Minimum Tax may apply. Municipal bonds are subject to credit risk and interest rate risk and can lose principal value, when interest rates rise.

Please note, investments may only be offered by properly licensed Registered Representatives. Product information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer, advise or make recommendations on the purchase of a security.

Always remember, the choices you make today can have a tremendous impact on both your current finances and your future retirement.


We want to make sure you receive a response to any service or policy-related questions as quickly as possible. To help us help you, please do not use the comment field below to submit these types of questions. Instead, please click here to access the Virtual Service Center and ask your question.


All comments are moderated by New York Life and will not appear on this story until after they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Opinions expressed in posts are those of the respective authors and do not represent the official position of New York Life.