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Year-end spending package tackles retirement planning, conservation easements

On December 23, 2022, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. The sprawling year-end spending “omnibus” package includes two important new laws that could affect your financial planning: the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) 2.0 Act (also known as SECURE 2.0) and the Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act.


Bolstering retirement savings


The original SECURE Act, enacted in 2019, was a significant bipartisan law related to retirement savings. In the spring of 2022, with an eye toward building on the reforms in that law, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Securing a Strong Retirement Act. Despite strong bipartisan support, the bill stalled. Then, the U.S. Senate introduced its own retirement legislation, dubbed the Enhancing American Retirement Now Act.


SECURE 2.0 incorporates provisions from both bills and addresses a wide array of areas that make major changes to retirement planning, including:


Required minimum distributions (RMDs). The first SECURE Act generally raised the age at which you must begin to take RMDs — and pay taxes on them — from traditional IRAs and other qualified plans, from 70½ to 72. The new law increases the age to 73, starting January 1, 2023, and boosts it to 75 on January 1, 2033. This change allows people to delay taking RMDs and paying tax on them.


The law also relaxes the penalties for failing to take full RMDs, reducing the 50% excise (or penalty) tax to 25%. If the failure is corrected in a “timely” manner, the penalty would drop to 10%.


Catch-up contribu