Taxes are tricky :)
OnTrajectory provides a variety of mechanisms and techniques for modeling the effects of taxes over your financial life. However, it's important to always consult a professional when dealing which such complicated and technical subjects, and you should not depend solely on this tool for accurate projections of tax-handling and the effects of taxes when making long-term financial decisions.
Your 'Default Account' contains your Effective Tax Rate and is used to tax both income and gains (unless you specify a separate Gains Rate, as discussed in the section Additional Tax Options below).
Your Effective Tax Rate is the actual amount you pay in taxes for a given year and is not truly known until you have calculated taxes/refunds for that year, although you can get a good idea of your typical Effective Tax Rate by looking at past returns.
For example, if you make $40,000 per year, and your employer withholds 25% — but you subsequently receive a
$2,000 refund, here is your Effective Rate:
10,000 (withholding) minus 2,000 (refund) equals 8,000
divide that by 40,000 (salary) and your rate equals 20%
In addition, when you designate contributions that typically occur "pre-tax" (such as those to a 401K or Traditional IRA), OnTrajectory automatically excludes those contributions from taxable Income — meaning you needn't adjust your tax-rate to see the tax benefit of making those contributions.
Cost Basis — In some situations, you may want to set the "cost basis" for the Starting Balance of an account. Cost Basis is used to determine the amount of untaxed contributions in an account when it's first defined in OnTrajectory. Typically, this is only significant if you have a large account with sizable prior growth, such as a mutual fund account that's been growing for some time, and for which you have not paid taxes on the growth. This option is only available for accounts with Tax Type "Tax-Annual" and "Tax-Deferred (gains only)". For more information on Tax Types, see the section below.
Again, it is your 'Default Account' where you centrally define Tax Rates universally for any given year, as shown below:
The tax Type dropdown contains the following options:
The Additional Options section of the Tax window allows you to set two optional fields, Gains Tax Rate and Dividend Yield (if applicable).
Dividend Yield — If entered, this rate is used to calculate the annually-taxable amount of an account on which taxes are paid each year (whether funds are withdrawn from the account or not). An average Dividend Yield is about 3%.
If this value is left blank, all annual gains are taxed as income. If used, however, then growth in the account "above" the Dividend Yield is treated as tax-deferred and taxed only when funds are withdrawn. For example, if Growth is defined 5% and Dividend Yield is 3%, then 2% growth is deferred.
Note: Dividend Yield is only available on accounts with the Tax Type "Tax-Annual". If no value is entered, ALL gains in the account are taxed each year.
From the Taxes tab of your top "Default Account", click Automatically Calculate to have OnTrajectory estimate your tax rates for future years. This determination is made based on an array of factors. Specifically, your Total Taxable Income is calculated for each year. This consists of the following:
If Expenses are higher, we determine if the source needed to fund those expenses is taxable — if so, we add that amount to the "Total Taxable", and proceed as described above.
NOTE: OnTrajectory is NOT Tax-Advising or Tax-Accounting software. Our calculations are based on limited information
gleaned from the Income, Expense, and Account items you have entered for future years.
Your actual situation may be significantly different based on your unique tax situation.
HELPFUL HINT: Always compare OnTrajectory's calculated results (from the Output Data window) to YOUR ACTUAL TAX RETURNS to ensure estimates are in the proper range. If not, you can use the "adjustment" fields (discussed below) to correct the difference.
Further configuration of your tax-treatment is available from the Additional Options section as shown below:
Income and Gains Tax Adjustments — These can be either positive or negative values and are applied to your Automatically Calculated Rate(s). Most often, this is used to represent additional State or Local taxes OR to lessen your tax burden as a result of itemizing your taxes. Again, eveyone's taxes are unique and you always compare OnTrajectory's calculated results (from the Output Data window) to YOUR ACTUAL TAX RETURNS to ensure estimates are in the proper range. If not, you can use these "adjustment" fields to correct the difference.
From Menu / Settings, select the Tax Settings tab to view other tax-related settings and information.
Centralized versus Non-Centralized Tax Rates — By default, OnTrajectory maintains "centralized tax rates" meaning, for any given year, the same tax-rates are applied to every Income and Account item. Should you wish to set different rates for different items, you may do so from Tax Settings (although this is NOT typically used).
NOTE: If Non-Centralized Tax Rates is selected you will have to separately set taxes for EVERY income and account item separately, or else no taxes will be taken on those items.
Income and Gains Tax Brackets — These charts are shown on the Tax Settings tab for informational purposes and are updated based on current U.S. Tax Law.