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Michele Cagan, CPA

Michele is a practicing Certified Public Accountant with more than 20 years of experience. She has authored 15 books on topics including retirement, investing, real estate, financial recovery, budgeting, accounting, the stock market and more. She helps her clients gain financial stability and balance, navigate divorces and manage their businesses. She has taught business and accounting courses at multiple community colleges.

Posts by Michele Cagan, CPA

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: My Wife and I Want to Retire Early. How Many Different SEPPs Can We Have?

My wife and I plan to retire before age 59 ½. How many different 72(t)s can a household utilize? For example, if I have two traditional IRAs at two separate brokerages, can I take substantially equal periodic payments from each or do I need to consolidate them into one first? Since we file our taxes… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Is a Backdoor Roth Conversion Taxable Even If I Didn’t Take a Deduction on My IRA Contributions?

I’d like to ask about the backdoor Roth IRA. Say you are over the income limit for Roth contributions, so you make a traditional contribution with no tax deduction and then do a backdoor Roth. Is that conversion taxable? If so, you would be paying tax on that money twice since you paid tax on… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I’m 74 With $120k in My 401(k). Should I Get a Financial Planner to Help With RMDs?

I have a 401(k) with $120,000 in it. I’m 74 and getting the required minimum distribution at the end of each year. Do I need a retirement planner to help handle the withdrawal?  – Susan While technically you don’t need a financial advisor to handle your retirement account withdrawals, it can be useful to talk… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I’m 67 With $218k in an IRA. Should I Start My Withdrawals Now to Reduce Future RMD Taxes?

I’m turning 68 shortly and plan to wait to claim my Social Security at age 70 to maximize the monthly benefit. I also plan to retire at the end of the year, if not sooner (so in three months or less). Does withdrawing from my traditional IRAs (current balance is $215,000) to reduce the income… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Michele Cagan
Retirement

Ask an Advisor: I Made $310,000 Last Year and Have $546,000 in Retirement Savings, But My Spouse Doesn’t Work. How Can I Save More?

I am 48 years old. I made $310,000 last year and I currently have $546,000 in my retirement plan at work. My husband is on disability and doesn’t work and does not have a 401(k) plan. I wanted to open a Roth IRA but I read that I make too much money. What options do… read more…

Financial advisor and columnist Michele Cagan
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: How Can I Get the Biggest Benefit From an Electric Vehicle Tax Credit?

I purchased a Ford electric vehicle in February 2023. According to the IRS, it qualifies for a $6,843 tax credit. So in order to get my taxes to this amount, I’m not paying estimated taxes and will take a little more than my required minimum distribution from my IRA to get my tax liability up… read more…

Ask an Advisor: We're in Our Mid-50s and Have $2 Million in Our 401(k)s. Should We Pivot to Roth Contributions?
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: We’re in Our Mid-50s and Have $2 Million in Our 401(k)s. Should We Pivot to Roth Contributions?

We are a dual-income couple in our mid-50s with over $2 million in our 401(k)s. Should we “sacrifice” the pre-tax benefit and switch to Roth contributions at work? -Wendy Like most tax-related questions, the answer is “it depends.” Based on… read more…

Ask an Advisor: How Much Money Can I Give Away 'Without Incurring a Tax Issue With the IRS?'
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I Want to Give Money to My Son and Daughter-in-Law. How Much Money Can I Give Away Without ‘Incurring a Tax Issue With the IRS?’

How much money can I give to my son and daughter-in-law without incurring a tax issue with the IRS? -Irwin For 2023, you can give your son and daughter-in-law each $17,000 without having to deal with the IRS. But even… read more…

Ask an Advisor: 'How Can I Mitigate This Situation?' My Investment Accounts Don't Withhold Capital Gains Taxes, Which Causes Me to Owe a Large Tax Bill
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: ‘How Can I Mitigate This Situation?’ My Tax Bill Is Huge Because My Investment Accounts Don’t Withhold Capital Gains

My investment accounts don’t withhold taxes from my capital gains, which is causing me to owe large amounts when I file my returns. How can I mitigate this situation? -David As capital gains distributions are unpredictable and usually unknown until… read more…

Ask an Advisor: Can I Get My Financial Needs Met by One Advising Firm? Or Do I Need to Work With Multiple?
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Can a Single Financial Advising Firm Address ‘My Complete Spectrum of Financial Concerns?’

Can one individual or organization cover my complete spectrum of financial concerns, including investment diversification and maximum returns, income tax optimization, required minimum distribution (RMD) management, and steady income cash flow? Is there a good way to survey fiduciary candidates… read more…

Ask an Advisor: 'With Only a Few Hundred Dollars," How Do I Get Started Investing for Retirement?
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: With Only a Few Hundred Dollars, How Do I Get Started Investing for Retirement?

Is there a way to start a retirement account with only a few hundred dollars, then add to the account each payday? -Dave So many people put off saving for retirement because they feel like they can’t contribute enough or… read more…

Ask an Advisor: Help Me Understand the Math. How Does Donating to Charity Reduce My Taxable Income?
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Help Me Understand the Math. How Does Donating to Charity Reduce My Taxes?

If I give $50,000 in cash to a charity, does that lower my taxable adjusted gross income (AGI) by $50,000? So if my adjusted gross income was $100,000, and I gave $50,000 to charity, is my taxable income now $50,000?… read more…

Michele cagan
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I’m Looking for ‘a Tiebreaker’ After 2 Advisors Suggested Different Social Security Strategies. Which Advisor Should I Choose?

I’m speaking with two advisors and am looking for a tiebreaker. One advisor says to wait to take Social Security until I’m 70. The other says to take it now, taking the mindset that “a bird in the hand is better… read more…

Michele Cagan
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: Help Me Understand the ‘Best Way’ to Manage an IRA. Is It Better to Pay Taxes Now or in Retirement?

 Which is the best way to handle an individual retirement account (IRA)? Let it sit and earn money, then pay taxes on the withdrawals in retirement? Or roll it over to a Roth IRA? Should I pay the taxes now… read more…

Michele Cagan is an Ask an Advisor columnist
Financial Advisor

Ask an Advisor: I lost My Job. Can I Tap Retirement Accounts Without Penalties?

I lost my job last year and need to take care of a parent. In doing that, I must withdraw money from my retirement. I don’t understand the tax implications and penalties. I would also like access to any savings… read more…

Financial Advisor

Ask An Advisor: What Midyear Moves Will Cut Our Tax Bill?

We gained additional income and didn’t withhold enough on our Form W-4. We are currently not putting money into a retirement account but have access to a 401(k) through our employer. Would we be able to correct our withholding deficit… read more…