Understanding Pre-Tax and Post-Tax Dollars

Many taxpayers assume all earnings, income, and benefits are taxed the same whether it’s now or later; it’s a bit more complicated than that, and some things are not taxed at all. Understanding the taxes of each component of your finances will allow you to make the right moves to build your wealth. We provide the details below.

Benefits and earnings that aren’t taxed

When an employer provides benefits such as medical, vision, and dental insurance, the payments to provide these benefits are not taxed to the employee. Any other benefits provided are not taxed either, such as gym memberships, employee parking and commuting benefits, some childcare benefits, funds contributed to Health Savings Accounts, and more. Typically, the only thing other than regular income that you have to worry about being taxed is additional income, such as tips and commission, as well as the below.

Tax-deferred dollars

While benefits are typically not taxed, and income is taxed immediately, there are always earned dollars where tax is deferred. Contributions to your employer-provided 401k are not taxed except for payroll taxes such as social security and Medicare. You will pay taxes when you withdraw the funds many years later, but this money will have gone up in value. Additionally, your taxable income in retirement will likely be lower than it is now, therefore you won’t be paying as much in taxes later on.

Note this is the crucial difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. The funds contributed to a Roth IRA are taxed now, and the growth of that IRA is then tax-free, even when you withdraw. A Roth IRA is better for younger taxpayers that have several years to earn and grow their funds, while older taxpayers are better off with deferring their tax payments.

It’s essential to understand your flow of income and how and when it’s taxed, exactly. Always take advantage of putting away money pre-tax where you can, saving you money on taxes, and giving you the opportunity to grow wealth for the future. When you have the option between paying taxes now or deferring them, each can have its own advantages depending on your other circumstances.

Leave Comments

Free eBook

Tax Settlement Options

Download Now
Having a tax debt is stressful. We can help.