The reason withdrawals from an Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) prior to age 59½ are generally subject to a 10% tax penalty is that policymakers wanted to create a disincentive to use these savings for anything other than retirement.1
The Internal Revenue Service estimates that taxpayers and businesses spend 8.1 billion hours a year complying with tax-filing requirements. To put this into perspective, if all this work were done by a single company, it would need about four million full-time employees and be one of the largest industries in the U.S.1
Every year, about 140 million households file their federal tax returns.1 For many, the process involves digging through shoe boxes or manila folders full of receipts; gathering mortgage, retirement, and investment account statements; and relying on computer software to take advantage of every tax break the code permits.
It seems a shame not to make the most of all that effort.
Tax preparation may be the only time of year many households gather all their financial information in one place. That makes it a perfect time to take a critical look at how much money is coming in and where it’s all going. In other words, this is a great time to give the household budget a checkup.