A retiree who spent more than $1 million in a 401(k) could be on the hook for $2,800 in taxes if he were to sell the asset.
But the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning against that scenario, saying that such a scenario could be difficult to prove, and that the money could be subject to the 5% estate tax if it were to be sold in the future.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis (OTTA) issued a warning in its report to Congress last month about how much tax would be owed if an investor sold their 401(ks) in the event of a sale.
The report said that if a 401k account was sold in a year, then the taxpayer would owe a tax of 5% of the sale price.
But if it was sold two years later, then it would owe the tax on the difference between the initial price and the sale amount.
“Taxpayers should not sell investments to avoid estate tax liability.
Instead, they should consider selling investments to offset their taxable estate, as appropriate, to avoid tax liability for tax years in which they are not able to sell their investments,” said the IRS in its warning.
If a 401 (k) is sold in your lifetime and you were born in 1941 or later, the IRS says you would owe an estate tax of 10% on any gain from the sale.
But that figure would be adjusted annually for inflation.
If you were in your 40s and you bought a $10,000 investment, the tax would start at $5,400 and increase to $12,100 over 40 years.
If the 401(kk) is bought for $10 million or more, the figure would jump to $14,400 over 40 year, but would increase to at least $30,100 if it’s sold for $30 million.
In addition to that, if you had no children when you sold the 401k, then you’d owe an additional tax of $1.6 million.
If your 401k is sold for more than the value of the asset, then a tax on gains would be due.
But a tax would not be due if you sold it for less than the price of the investment.
The OTA’s warning comes as the administration tries to put together a new tax code.
It has already proposed a 15% excise tax on “pass-through” businesses, which include LLCs and partnerships.
It has also proposed a new 10% rate for income above $1 billion, which would apply to “pass through” businesses and individuals who make more than about $10.5 million.
The tax plan also proposes a new 12% surcharge on investments in companies with more than 50 employees, which could raise $1 trillion in new revenue.
In the meantime, a number of tax experts are urging investors to buy shares in companies in which their money is invested and avoid tax.