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Just how high could income taxes rise?

Nobody enjoys paying taxes. This is one of the biggest reasons why pre-tax contributions and tax-deferred growth make traditional retirement accounts so appealing – at least during your working years. But at some point, that money will be taxable upon withdrawal. With that in mind, it is important for you to have a plan in place that accounts for the possible taxes you may have to pay – because nobody knows just how high income taxes could rise down the road!

A Look Back at Income Taxes in the Past

Prior to 1913, revenue generated by the U.S. federal government was done so primarily via taxes on goods, such as the imposing of tariffs on imported products and excise taxes on other items like whiskey. However, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution established the right of Congress to impose a Federal income tax. That year, the top Federal income tax rate was just a mere 7%. However, over time, this rate has vacillated, and it has been as high as 94%, with forty-nine of the past 109 years seeing a top rate of 70% or more.

The Top Federal Income Tax Rates From 1913 Through 2022


Source: Inside Gov

How would rates that high impact your retirement lifestyle? Currently (in 2022), the highest federal income tax rate is sitting at just 37% (based on your income and tax filing status) – which in comparison to other years is considered quite low. But after the year 2025 – or possibly even sooner – be prepared for rates to rise… and where they’ll stop, nobody really knows.

Income Tax Rates and Brackets (in 2022)

2022 Tax RateSingle Tax FilersMarried Individuals Filing JointlyHead of Household
10%$0 to $10,275$0 to $20,550$0 to $14,650
12%$10,275 to $41,775$20,550 to $83,550$14,650 to $55,900
22%$41,775 to $89,075$83,550 to $178,150$55,900 to $89,050
24%$89,075 to $170,050$178,550 to $340,100$89,050 to $170,050
32%$170,050 to $215,950$340,100 to $431,900$170,050 to $215,950
35%$215,950 to $539,900$431,900 to $647,850$215,950 to $539,900
37%$539,900 or more$647,850 or more$539,900 or more

Source: Internal Revenue Service

While some of the funds that you generate in retirement may be taxed as income, it is possible that others could be subject to a different type of tax – as well as a different rate. This refers to capital gains taxes. Capital gains can be considered long- or short-term. Long-term capital gains are the profits on investments that have been held for more than one year, while short-term capital gains are incurred on investments held for one year or less. Depending on the amount of income that you generate, as well as your tax filing status, long-term capital gains tax rates (in 2022) are 0%, 15%, or 20%, whereas short-term capital gains taxes correspond with your ordinary income tax rate.

Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rates and Brackets (in 2022)

Long-Term Capital Gains Tax RateFor unmarried individuals with taxable income overFor married individuals who file joint tax returns with taxable income overFor heads of households, with taxable income over


Strategies for Paying Less Income Tax in Retirement

Given the possible avenues for taxation of your income and withdrawals in retirement, there are some potential strategies that could ease the burden. Some of these may include the following:
  • Take advantage of the Roth IRA (where withdrawals come out tax-free).
  • Time your Social Security income so that the benefits are not taxable (up to 85% of Social Security benefits could be taxable, based on when you file and how much other income you generate).
  • Coordinate your taxable income or withdrawals from traditional IRAs and/or retirement plans with non-taxable funds from tax-free sources.
  • Consider using tax-free loans from cash value life insurance to supplement your other retirement income sources.

Do You Have the Right Retirement Income Plan in Place?

Reducing – or even eliminating – taxes on your retirement income and withdrawals may be possible, provided that you have a good solid strategy in place. However, not properly setting up your plan could end up costing you. That is why working with a retirement income specialist is highly recommended. At Annuity Gator, we provide solutions for generating cash flow in retirement, while at the same time being mindful of how different sources may impact the amount of tax that you may owe. If you would like to set up a time to chat with an Annuity Gator retirement expert, feel free to contact us by phone at (888) 440-2468 or by sending us an email to our secure online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.

Just how high could income taxes rise?

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