Author Topic: Opening new investment accounts?  (Read 4536 times)

MrSal

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Opening new investment accounts?
« on: February 24, 2015, 09:15:57 PM »
Hello everyone,

As I posted before I am fairly new to the US and my wife, not being very knowledgeable regarding finances, it ends up to me to do it all.

I know a lot about markets, since I used to work in a hedge fund in my previous country, although I am not that knowledgeable regarding investment plans here in the US.

We want to open a few retirement accounts, so we can start planning our retirement and so that she doesn't owe uncle Sam so much in taxes.

She is a teacher, and has access to a 403b a 457 from what I know, although the 403b the fund selection is quite bad (high fees and 5.25 commission of signing up...

actually, when I inquired one of the Financial Advisors that works for the school, she said " No there are no low based fees funds... you know, not everyone can do it themselves we need to get paid too... the same way you like to be paid for the work you do" ...

I was actually shocked and speechless... anyhow that's what is available and I am trying to find some options so we can fund some accounts.

According to my researcy my understanding is pretty much this:

- IRA's:

Anyone can open an IRA. It is funded with their own money and you can only withdraw the money at a certain age. Traditional IRA is funded pre tax and you pay taxes at the end with the withdrawals.

Roth is after tax money and you are therefore exempt of taxes at "maturity" so to speak.


She has about 8k in liquidity right now, and about 4k to receive from IRS as well a lump sum payment coming in June of around 7k. I didnt have any income last year for the US tax, but I do have about 50k in liquidity that I want to put to work.

We want to take advantage of opening an account before April so we can deduct it for 2014 tax.

Can we fund both IRA and Roth IRA? If so, what are the limits according to the IRS?

If we are married, and our joint income was lets say 50 000 dollars... and we are eligible to contribute total 40k to both IRAs as a couple, can we use money that I have parked elsewhere that is my own to fund them or does it have to be from income of 2014?

Finally, what is the best broker to open such type accounts?

Im familiar with Interactive Brokers since it was a brokerage house we used a lot, but for smaller investors it has lot of maintenance fees. For IRAs, what is better?

Vanguard? Charles Schwab? TD Ameritrade?

Any other suggestions that I may not be aware?

THanks

FarmerPete

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2015, 12:10:28 PM »
Does your wife have access to a pension?  Most teachers in my area have a pension and pretty much ignore their 403b/457.  If not, does she get a match on contributions to those accounts?

You can add $5500 per person to an IRA or Roth (they share the same cap).  So that's $11,000 of income.

Yes, the IRS doesn't care if the dollars you put into a retirement account are the physical dollars that you earned from your job for IRA and Roth IRA accounts.  However, you are typically limited to putting in only the actual earnings into your wife's account.  You could then just live off of your savings though and get the same net effect.

As far as 2014 is concerned, the boat has already past for 403b/457 contributions.  You can't add to those accounts after the fact.  You can still contribute up to your max ($5500 per person unless you're over 50 yrs old) for 2014 though.  Remember that Roth IRA contributions are not eligible for tax deductions today, but you may still qualify for the savers credit if you are eligible.

MrSal

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2015, 02:07:13 PM »
Does your wife have access to a pension?  Most teachers in my area have a pension and pretty much ignore their 403b/457.  If not, does she get a match on contributions to those accounts?

You can add $5500 per person to an IRA or Roth (they share the same cap).  So that's $11,000 of income.

Yes, the IRS doesn't care if the dollars you put into a retirement account are the physical dollars that you earned from your job for IRA and Roth IRA accounts.  However, you are typically limited to putting in only the actual earnings into your wife's account.  You could then just live off of your savings though and get the same net effect.

As far as 2014 is concerned, the boat has already past for 403b/457 contributions.  You can't add to those accounts after the fact.  You can still contribute up to your max ($5500 per person unless you're over 50 yrs old) for 2014 though.  Remember that Roth IRA contributions are not eligible for tax deductions today, but you may still qualify for the savers credit if you are eligible.

A pension?

I believe so ... She is a teacher in PA so PSERS is the pension fund. According to what I've looked, her employer contributes X amount for PSERS and she has to contribute 6% or so. This is mandatory.

When she retires, she is entitled to the pension (annual salary according to the years she worked) and also a lump sum of her contributions to the PSERS system.

So if I understood correctly she may get for example, a monthly check for the pension for 5000 dollars and then in the beginning of her retirement she can withdraw 120k (usually the examples given are these) or so or roll them over to IRA's and such.

Regarding the tax for IRAs ok I get it. So lets say she makes 50 000 dollars, we can only put 50k in IRA this year... and only 11k will be tax deductible correct?

Roth IRAs are not tax deductible? I thought they'd be deductible in conjunction with the IRA. Or do you mean because they are exempt of taxes at the END of the Roth lifespan, then they are not deductible in the present moment?

So ok in summary ...

457/403b is through your employer. It comes deducted from your paycheck so... there is no retroaction whatsoever.

IRAs both Roth and Traditional are eligible. You say only traditional are deductible although Roth IRA we may be eligible for savers credit?

I looked a bit, and for a married couple filing jointly for under 61000 is a 10% credit.

So this means, because I didnt have income, and she gets less than 61k, if we put everything that we are eligible in IRA's so 11000 dollars, not only those 11k deduct from the AGI putting it at lets say 50000-11000 = 49 000

but also, when calculating the tax due, we get a credit of 1100 dollars?? 10% of 11k?? At least thats my understanding of what a credit is, unlike a deduction, a credit is made after the tax owed is calculated.

MrSal

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2015, 02:17:54 PM »
oh just one more question ...

All this is totally unrelated with the standard deductions correct? Or to take advantage of these do we need to itemize?

Im just finding this so hard to believe... because you can almost pay no taxes with this or very very little!!

Can we still use the standard deductions along with the IRA deduction PLUS the Savers credit?!?

MDM

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2015, 02:33:33 PM »
Can we still use the standard deductions along with the IRA deduction PLUS the Savers credit?!?
Yes, if you qualify.

Have you filed your 2014 taxes yet?  See Form 1040 and all the instructions....

MrSal

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2015, 03:43:21 PM »
Yes we qualify... but only for 10% of contributions.

We havent filed yet because Im still researching... Ive only been in the country a couple months, so Im still getting used to how all this works and the tax code.

Im going to open a IRA accounts though so that they can be ready for transfers.

Regarding the investment accounts what do you recommend? I know Vanguard has free ETFs for their ETFs... Charles Schwabb as well free for their ETFs.

Any others you'd recommend for IRAs ?

Another Reader

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2015, 03:59:48 PM »
I have accounts with all three companies.  Vanguard is clunky and difficult to deal with for anything out of the ordinary.  Index funds and basic ETF's are their specialties.  Fidelity has a better website, offices where you can visit your money, and Spartan mutual funds.  Fidelity also has a large selection of commission-free ETF's.  Schwab has their own brand of ETF's and index funds.  Low account minimum and anytime I spot an extra $50 lying around, I can just transfer it over and drop it in.  The investor checking with Schwab Bank refunds ATM fees.

What about your wife's 457 plan?  Deferred comp is not a qualified retirement plan, so there are no penalties for accessing the money before age 59 1/2.  If it's less offensive in fees and investment selections, I would bulk that up.  However, it's too late for 2014, so she can only sign up prospectively.

bdoubleu

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2015, 05:57:44 PM »
Does your wife have access to a pension?  Most teachers in my area have a pension and pretty much ignore their 403b/457.  If not, does she get a match on contributions to those accounts?

You can add $5500 per person to an IRA or Roth (they share the same cap).  So that's $11,000 of income.

Yes, the IRS doesn't care if the dollars you put into a retirement account are the physical dollars that you earned from your job for IRA and Roth IRA accounts.  However, you are typically limited to putting in only the actual earnings into your wife's account.  You could then just live off of your savings though and get the same net effect.

As far as 2014 is concerned, the boat has already past for 403b/457 contributions.  You can't add to those accounts after the fact.  You can still contribute up to your max ($5500 per person unless you're over 50 yrs old) for 2014 though.  Remember that Roth IRA contributions are not eligible for tax deductions today, but you may still qualify for the savers credit if you are eligible.

Regarding the tax for IRAs ok I get it. So lets say she makes 50 000 dollars, we can only put 50k in IRA this year... and only 11k will be tax deductible correct?

Roth IRAs are not tax deductible? I thought they'd be deductible in conjunction with the IRA. Or do you mean because they are exempt of taxes at the END of the Roth lifespan, then they are not deductible in the present moment?

So ok in summary ...

457/403b is through your employer. It comes deducted from your paycheck so... there is no retroaction whatsoever.

IRAs both Roth and Traditional are eligible. You say only traditional are deductible although Roth IRA we may be eligible for savers credit?

I looked a bit, and for a married couple filing jointly for under 61000 is a 10% credit.

So this means, because I didnt have income, and she gets less than 61k, if we put everything that we are eligible in IRA's so 11000 dollars, not only those 11k deduct from the AGI putting it at lets say 50000-11000 = 49 000

but also, when calculating the tax due, we get a credit of 1100 dollars?? 10% of 11k?? At least thats my understanding of what a credit is, unlike a deduction, a credit is made after the tax owed is calculated.

First, you can't put $50,000 in your IRAs this year.  You can each put $5500 in to either a traditional or Roth each year (so, before April 2015, you can each contribute $5,500 for 2014. You then have until April 2016 to each contribute $5500 for the 2015 tax year).

The retirement plans through employers have a cutoff of December 31st of each year (vs April of next year for IRAs).  Sounds like you understand that part.

The Saver's Credit percentage has a limit of $4,000 for married filing jointly - so 10% of the first $4,000 you contribute.  So your Saver's Credit would be $400.  Still something, but not the $1,100 you calculated.  Also, the Saver's Credit is not just for Roth IRA contributions, it is for all retirement plans (ie traditional IRA, trad/Roth 401(k), trad/Roth 403(b), etc).

From irs.gov "The amount of the credit is 50%, 20% or 10% of your retirement plan or IRA contributions up to $2,000 ($4,000 if married filing jointly)."

It sounds like there's still a lot you need to figure out about how these all work with taxes (admittedly, the tax code and types of retirement accounts are somewhat complicated!), but you seem to be very receptive of the information provided so far.  Hope this helps!

MDM

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2015, 06:09:52 PM »
We haven't filed yet because I'm still researching... Ive only been in the country a couple months, so I'm still getting used to how all this works and the tax code.
I highly recommend you get a copy of TurboTax or TaxAct or Excel1040 or ... (any of the highly used tax software packages).  Two reasons:
1) Help do your 2014 taxes
2) Help with your 2015 investing strategy - you can create a separate return and use 2015 estimated income, etc.  It will not be correct because rates, brackets, etc. will change, but it should be much closer than guessing.

If you want a quick estimate, download the spreadsheet linked here.  If your tax situation is relatively simple it should be accurate enough for estimating.  If you want guaranteed accuracy - see the commercial packages.

rpr

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2015, 06:24:06 PM »
I assume that as of Dec 31, 2014, you were married.

As others have said:

You can only contribute $5500 per person to IRAs. You can put it all in the Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA or a combination of the two. The total contribution per person is $5500.

Since you have the 50k that you want to put to work, you contribute 11k for both of you for 2014 and another 11k for both of you for 2015.

Plus, I also second MDM's advice.

MrSal

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2015, 08:44:24 PM »
I have accounts with all three companies.  Vanguard is clunky and difficult to deal with for anything out of the ordinary.  Index funds and basic ETF's are their specialties.  Fidelity has a better website, offices where you can visit your money, and Spartan mutual funds.  Fidelity also has a large selection of commission-free ETF's.  Schwab has their own brand of ETF's and index funds.  Low account minimum and anytime I spot an extra $50 lying around, I can just transfer it over and drop it in.  The investor checking with Schwab Bank refunds ATM fees.

What about your wife's 457 plan?  Deferred comp is not a qualified retirement plan, so there are no penalties for accessing the money before age 59 1/2.  If it's less offensive in fees and investment selections, I would bulk that up.  However, it's too late for 2014, so she can only sign up prospectively.

Yup sorry for not knowing all of this.

Its not complicated is just a lot of info to gather at first and grasp all the nomenclatures and naming and rules.

Ive thought about that... I wondered, well, if we are wanting to retire early... IRAs and 401ks dont do anything since you can only tap them at 59 years old.

The 457 may be an option to load up there... She is eligible to it, and I think the limits per year are about 17-18k ball park. I'm not sure regarding the offer in there but I assume its the same crappy offer of funds the 403b has. I'm not sure of the match percentage either but its either very little or none.

Quote
The retirement plans through employers have a cutoff of December 31st of each year (vs April of next year for IRAs).  Sounds like you understand that part.

Do these plans have to be through paycheck only? What I mean by this, can we go all year without adding to 403b/401k and then by November/DEcember decide "Hey we have 20k in liquidity lets move all this to 403b" or does it have to be pre planned and divided into monthly chunks so that each paycheck can fund those accounts in a partial amount of the paycheck?

Ok I got regarding the limits. I though the limits were ONLY what could be DEDUCTED on your IRS ... i though you could put as much as youd like but only the first 18k or whatever would be deducted.

As for the brokers ...Well Vanguard has the pro of all their ETF fund selection being really good and free. I have no knowledge of Schwabbs ETFs if their performance is good in terms of tracking the index with the tracking error and such.

What are the main major brokers in the US for retirement accounts and such? TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwabb? Any others I should consider? So that I can look into it and then choose.

Can we open an IRA in one institution and then transfer it to other down the line easily?

I find these plans rather amusing. Unfortunately my country has none of this. We used to have a 0% tax on capital gains, but then came the 2008/2009 crisis and with the media blaming speculators and such... the parliament ended up approving a 29% tax on capital gains and there are no such thing as retirement accounts. So all this comes as fresh air to me.

Im sorry if I make a lot of questions but this is all new... mind you that I dont just come here and ask. I research and research extensively and then expose some doubts.

Thanks again for the help

rpr

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Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2015, 09:49:44 PM »
Once again, these Ira limits are not limits on the deductibility but are limits on the contribution.

For your reading pleasure

http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590/

http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/401%28k%29-Plans



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« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 09:56:52 PM by rpr »

MrSal

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2015, 10:05:12 PM »
Once again, these Ira limits are not limits on the deductibility but are limits on the contribution.

For your reading pleasure

http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590/

http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/401%28k%29-Plans



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Yes I know that. I got that from the first mention ... I just said I thought it was just the deductibility. :)

fartface

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2015, 03:14:53 PM »
RE: IRS Saver's Credit

The max credit a married couple can get is only $400 if they earn $60K or less (married filing jointly)?

Let's say Jill and John have AGI of $60,000 and contribute $30,000 into their employer sponsored retirement accounts and IRA's?

Would they get 30,000 x .1 = $3000 tax credit? OR 4000 x .1 = $400?

I'm planning on this very scenario above...but think according to the rules I can only count $4000 of our $30,000 contributions?



TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2015, 04:18:09 PM »
First off, don't be sorry that this is confusing.  Our tax code is stupidly complicated.  It's like that to take as much money from us as possible.  The internet has let us band together for self-defense.

On 457(b) and 403(b) and school districts:

I had a very long talk with one of the companies that services our districts 403/457 plans.  Mostly I wanted to know why the f*** the prospectuses they gave us included funds we couldn't actually buy.  There are 5 companies to choose from, and each one has a huge list of funds.  I picked one that listed some Vanguard funds I could live with, but then once I was signed up none of those funds was a choice on my elections.

The deal here is that over time the offerings have changed, and so the paperwork shows every fund they have ever offered, while the company itself is only allowed to offer funds approved by whoever the district has appointed to that task.  So each company puts together a group it thinks is good, and then some asshole somewhere approves or disapproves.  It generally goes like,

"why isn't there a gold fund?" 
"Well gold isn't really..."
"Well some of our teachers want gold!" 
"sigh....alright, what should we swap out for that, because you only let us have 10 funds." 
"Drop this, what is this, index fund? that sounds boring."

The district definitely didn't appoint one of their best and brightest.  The companies servicing these plans definitely took whoever it was out to lunch, and everyone should be pissed at how this works.

For now, the return you get via the tax deferral is going to be between 15% and 25%, depending on what you put in.  The higher fees and stuff will take a long time to wipe out this benefit.  So short term you win by putting money away here.  Long term, you can change jobs/districts/retire and rollover to your IRA account and get the money working a little smarter.  You lose the advantages of a 457 plan by doing this, but there are ways to access your IRA funds pre 59.5, detailed, I dunno, here:

http://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/12/05/stocks-part-xx-early-retirement-withdrawal-strategies-and-roth-conversion-ladders-from-a-mad-fientist/

The law may change etc etc but it's likely the SEPP method will still be available.

Long term, you can find out who it is in the district that picks/approves the funds and hound them for a meeting and then drop some financial literacy on their ass.  There's some kind of teacher's union that may be able to help with this.  Most of the time the people doing it just have no idea what they are doing.

So married filing jointly, just a quick estimate, and I don't know how state income tax works because Texas is awesome:

$50,000 of income in 2015.  Standard deduction is $12,600.  You won't get this if you itemize, so that decision is to total up all your itemized deductions and see which is larger, itemized or standard.  I itemize every other year, paying the large lumps of property taxes within the same calendar year (January 2015 for 2014 taxes, December 2015 for 2015 taxes).  This nets me just enough deductions to itemize.  I also know that this year is a good year to have a baby or other similar silly medical thing.  I try to pile on any other deductions I can find for an itemize year.

But with $12,600 as the standard, you are down to $37,400.  Your tax at this point is $4687.50.  Teacher retirement, at 6% of 50,000, takes you down to $34,400.  Your tax at this point is $4237.50.  So the $3000 in teacher retirement contribution only cost you $2,550.  Neat.

Now teacher retirement is a thing that is super complicated.  You mentioned a pension plus a lump sum.  Be careful with that.  I'm taking the entire thing as a lump sum because I'm dropping out 30 years before I'd be eligible to use any of it, but there's no time frame in my system where the lump sum + annuity makes sense.  You either take it all out or leave it all in.  If it ends up not being that much money and you're close to proper age, there are usually some very nice services type reasons to stay in.

Anyways, you decide to save more!  The 457 is probably cooler than the 403, so lets max that out!  18k contribution limit this year.  You can fund that from your liquid savings now by just dumping 100% of the paychecks into this until it is maxed, and using the savings for your expenses.

After $18,000 goes to the 457(b), you are down to $16,400.  That 18k in contribution only cost you 15.4k, because your tax burden is down to $1,640.00!  Now you want to get nuts!  Unfortunately, you don't make enough income to max out the 403(b) as well, but lets dump the whole $16,400 in there and live off savings in taxable accounts.  Now you are down to zero income, your tax burden is zero, and so the extra $16,400 only cost you $14,760.00!

I don't know if this helps you or not, but good luck.  I didn't include stuff like social security or medicare in the above example, because it makes it a little more complicated.  But you get the general idea.

So yea, you can get to not just paying very little in tax, but nothing at all.

MDM

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2015, 06:52:41 PM »
RE: IRS Saver's Credit

The max credit a married couple can get is only $400 if they earn $60K or less (married filing jointly)?

Let's say Jill and John have AGI of $60,000 and contribute $30,000 into their employer sponsored retirement accounts and IRA's?

Would they get 30,000 x .1 = $3000 tax credit? OR 4000 x .1 = $400?

I'm planning on this very scenario above...but think according to the rules I can only count $4000 of our $30,000 contributions?
$400.  See the case study spreadsheet if you want to evaluate more "what if?" options, but in 2015 for the situation you described above:

CategoryMonthlyCommentsAnnual
Salary/Wages$7,500$90,000
401(k) / 403(b) / TSP / etc.$2,500Room to increase?$30,000
Federal Adj. Gross Inc.$5,000$60,000
Federal tax$3822015 rates, MFJ, stand. ded., 2 exempt.$4,587
State/City tax$250Guess, using 5.00% * Fed. AGI$3,000
Soc. Sec.$465Assumes 2 earners paying$5,580
Medicare$109$1,305
Total income taxes$1,206$14,472

MrSal

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2015, 12:48:17 AM »
Thanks for the info for all of you.

One more question though that I've been trying to find online but haven't had success.

Can you guys give me a quick blue print of a detailed deductions to your salary to reach the taxable?

Something like:

+Wages
+Investment income
-State Tax
-IRA contribution
- 403/401k

= AGI

Something like that.

I say this because I'm playing with turbo tax and it doesnt show much info in a structured matter as if it were lets a financial income statement which would be cool to understand which thing goes where.

Im playing with Turbotax and changing the contributions to 403b and it seems it doesnt have any effect at all in the refund which is odd!

MrSal

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2015, 01:16:49 AM »
For example lets assume a salary of 55k

The grasp of what I have is the following for a couple filling jointly:


+ 55 000
- 12 400 (Standard deduction or Itemize if value > 12 400)
- 7 900 (Personal exemptions for each person of household)
- IRA
- 401k/403/457s

= Taxable Income (is this the AGI where most other little taxes base themselves off?)

Now, lets assume this couple contributes the maximum to their tIRAs.

It brings their taxable income to 23700.

What if this couple also contributed to 403b's or something? Could that bring the taxable income to almost zero?

As I said Im playing with this scenario on turbo tax and when choosing contributions to retirement plans that ARE NOT Roth, it doesnt change anything...
« Last Edit: March 11, 2015, 01:54:32 AM by MrSal »

tdogz

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2015, 05:52:50 AM »
AGI is prior to your standard (or itemized) deduction and exemption(s). That means your taxable income is different from your AGI.

On the 2014 1040 form, your AGI is line 37 and your taxable income is line 43.
That is where your tax is computed, but then you still can have credits or additional taxes that decrease or increase your tax liability - such as the Earned Income Credit or Savers Credit.

I would look at how the IRS form 1040 is laid out for an idea of how each item affects the other. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040.pdf

MrSal

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Re: Opening new investment accounts?
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2015, 06:49:57 AM »
So how come most financial blogs Ive read... regarding subsidies they get for obamacare and such and how retirement for an early retiree is so great for not paying much taxes, they always count their eligibility with the Taxable income, or after the standard deductions and contributions?

Thanks for the link Ive actually been doing taxes with the form on my side and along turbo tax.

I still find it weird that the difference in 403b or 457 and 401k doesn't alter the results at all in turbo