Pensions and the Zero Percent Tax Bracket with David McKnight

the power of zero

About half of the people that David sees have pensions. The younger you are the less likely you are to have a pension.

The burning question these people always have once they believe that tax rates are going to be higher in the future is “what can I do if I have a pension?”

Have you elected the income option on the pension? Once you set that in motion, there is no way to unwind it.

If you haven’t made your payment option yet, your company may offer a Lump Sum Distribution Alternative where you can roll the lump sum into an IRA. This makes it easy to get that money into the tax free bucket and the 0% tax bracket.

There is a dark underbelly of the pension world. When you receive a pension, it’s going to be on the IRS’s radar forever.

It will come out of your taxable bucket and you will be exposed to the ebb and flow of tax rates over time. Pensions also count as provisional income.

If your pension is big enough, when coupled with your social security, it will almost certainly push you over the threshold where your social security will be taxed.

The only thing you can do is worry about the things you can control. The upside is at least you will have a consistent stream of income until you die.

The reality of pensions is you may never be in the 0% tax bracket.

The most you will ever own of your IRA or 401(k) is 78% because the IRS is a 22% stakeholder, and it will only get worse from here on out.

You have to take a strong look at what your tax bracket is today during your working years. If you’re in a 22% tax bracket today and will be in your retirement, don’t let a year go by without maximizing your tax bracket through Roth Conversions. [

Why would you not, at the very least, convert your IRA’s during your working years?

The 24% tax bracket is only 2% worse but it lets you protect an additional $150,000 by shifting it to the tax free bucket by way of the Roth Conversion.

We will look back 10 years from now at the 22% and 24% tax brackets and say “that was the deal of the century.”

Even if you don’t think that tax rates will be dramatically higher than they are today, we know that come Jan 1, 2026 the 22% tax bracket becomes the 25% tax bracket and the 24% tax bracket becomes the 28% tax bracket.

The huge upside of having a pension is having way more certainty in terms of what your tax bracket is today versus what it will be in the future and you have more certainty that you won’t have buyer’s remorse. 

Don’t let a year go by where you aren’t maxing out the 22% tax bracket. 

If you have already begun taking your pension, it makes a ton of sense to be shifting as much money as you can and maxing out your current tax bracket


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