Author(s): Ann Stuursma, Tara Velting

lf you have waited until the last minute this year to make decisions on monetary gifts and decisions regarding your retirement accounts, please keep the following information in mind.

In 2009, there is no penalty for seniors who fail to take the required minimum distributions from their IRA and employee retirement accounts. Last year, as the stock market continued to fall, Congress suspended the RIVID rule because they did not want to force seniors to sell stocks in a bad market.

You probably already know that the amount you can give to a person in one yearwithout having to file a gift tax return is now $13,000. ln order to qualify and have a completed gift, make sure that your donee deposits the check into his/her account by the last business day of the year.

The retirement contribution limit this year is the same as 2008: $5,000 for a single person and $10,000 for a couple. However, if you are over 50 the limit is $6,000 for a single person and $12,000 for a married couple if both are over 50. Self—employed persons can contribute $49,000 to a SEP—lRA or simple IRA, subject to limitations based on income.

lf you have been wanting to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA but have not been able to because your adjusted gross income is more than $100,000, as of January 1, 2010, anyone will be eligible to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Keep in mind that you will have to pay taxes when you make the conversion, however, the taxes can be spread over two years. The Roth lRA’s feature of growing tax-free may be worth the tax bill this year. Talk to your financial advisor for more information and specific advise.

Congress also extended the charitable rollover provision to the end of this year, This was originally part of the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Rather than paying taxes on the funds you withdraw from your IRA and then making a donation, if you simply have the money transferred from your IRA to an eligible public charity, you do not have to pay any income tax on the withdrawal at all. The transfer will no longer be eligible for the charitable tax deduction. By doing this you have saved yourself a tax bill.

Finally, if you have a Flexible Savings Account for your health care expenses, be advised – use it or lose it! Enjoy the Holiday Season!

For more information, contact Ann Stuursma and Tara Velting.