Of course, you may not be able to completely control which tax bracket you land in. Starting at age 70 ½, you are required by law to draw a minimum amount from any tax-deferred savings, and if you have a large amount socked away in 401(k) plans or traditional IRA accounts, that can inadvertently push you into a higher bracket.
Even with that requirement, though, there are ways to manage income. One approach is to be strategic about the years between when you retire and when you have to start taking those distributions, said Phil DeMuth, author of "The Overtaxed Investor."
Say you retire at 62, eight years before the minimum distribution requirement kicks in. (That's also the median retirement age of current retirees, according to JPMorgan Asset Management.) Your income in those years is likely to be pretty low, which will keep your tax bracket lower as well.
DeMuth suggests drawing money from tax-deferred accounts during those years to bring you to the income you want. The withdrawals will be subject to ordinary income taxes, but at the lower rate.
"Start by taking out only enough from your retirement account to the point where you would start paying taxes," he said. Then DeMuth recommended tapping taxable savings, because the tax rate on that money is likely to be lower.
That approach will keep your taxes lower until you have to take required minimum distributions. And when that time does come, the withdrawals will be reduced by the shrinkage of the tax-deferred accounts.