SYNOPSIS: In Bobrow v. Commissioner, the Tax Court recently concluded that the rollover treatment that allows taxpayers to take money out of, and repay money to, IRAs on a tax-free basis is limited to one rollover per 12-month period per taxpayer, regardless of the number of IRAs held by the taxpayer. This ruling differs significantly from the previous IRS position, which applied the tax-free rollover rules on an IRA-by-IRA basis. After the Tax Court’s decision, however, the IRS issued Announcement 2014-15, indicating that it now will follow Bobrow’s interpretation of the IRA rollover rules.
TAKE AWAY: The Bobrow decision and the IRS’s revised position have significantly restricted an IRA holder’s ability to access his or her IRA funds on a short-term, tax-free basis. This, combined with the recent proposal to eliminate “stretch” IRAs found in both the draft “Tax Reform Act of 2014” and the President’s FY2015 Budget (see discussion in WRMarketplace#14-10), evidence that additional changes to the tax treatment of IRAs may be possible. Regardless, these savings vehicles currently remain important and popular tools for retirement planning. Thus, clients maintaining IRAs (and their advisors) must be aware of the IRS’s change in position to avoid inadvertent violations of the rollover rules, which could cause unexpected current taxation of amounts purportedly rolled over after December 31, 2014.
MAJOR REFERENCES: Bobrow v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2013-21 (2014);Internal Revenue Service Announcement 2014-15.
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