News and Commentary

8 Year-End Strategies for Retirement Savers by Kathleen Marteney CRPC®

Thanksgiving is just ahead and another year is quickly coming to an end, leaving investors with a limited amount of time to maximize their retirement savings in the most tax-efficient manner. Following are some steps to consider taking before Dec. 31.

Max out your contribution to a workplace 401(k) retirement plan. For 2019, the maximum amount you may defer from your salary is $19,000 if you are under age 50, or $25,000 if you are 50 or older.

Consider setting up a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) or a ROTH IRA before the end of the year, especially if you do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. You will have until April 15, 2020, to make a contribution of up to $6,000, or $7,000 if you are age 50 or older.

If you are 70½ years of age or older and you no longer work, you have until Dec. 31 to  take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from your tax-deferred retirement accounts,  including 401(k)s, traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs and Simple IRAs. If you turned 70½ this year, you can put off your first RMD until April 1, 2020, which will require you to take two RMDs next year. RMDs are treated as taxable income. Failing to take an RMD will result in a penalty equal to 50 percent of the undistributed amount. Consult your tax advisor to assess your specific situation.

If you are the beneficiary of a tax-deferred retirement account or ROTH IRA owned by  a person who passed away in 2019, you may be required to take the decedent’s RMD for the year or risk a penalty.

Complete all qualified charitable distributions (QCD) from retirement accounts, allowing IRA owners and their beneficiaries age 70½ or older to transfer up to $100,000 in IRA funds tax-free to a charitable organization. If you miss the December 31 deadline, you will not receive the tax benefit for the year.

Set up separate accounts for each beneficiary who inherited IRA accounts from a deceased owner in order to allow the beneficiaries to stretch out their distributions over their lifetimes.

If you changed jobs during this year, make sure you account for any and all retirement plans and health savings accounts that you may have had with your previous employer. You may roll over those savings plans directly to an account with your new employer or into a separate IRA to avoid losing track of them in the future and having to pay taxes on early distributions. Under certain circumstances, it may make sense for you to leave your savings in the retirement plan sponsored by your previous employer. Check with your financial advisor.

Meet with a financial advisor before the end of the year to ensure you are making use of all of the retirement savings options available to you based on your income and filing status, among other factors. A qualified advisor can assess your current financial circumstances, address any holes in your existing estate plan and help you map out a strategy for achieving your personal and business financial goals in the future.


About the Author: Kathleen Marteney, CRPC®, is a financial planner with Provenance Wealth Advisors, an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs, and a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services. She can be reached at 800-737-8804 or via email at


Provenance Wealth Advisors, 515 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.


Kathleen Montgomery is a registered representative of and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.


Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs. PWA is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., and Provenance Wealth Advisors. 


This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of PWA and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.