9 Clever Year-end Tax Planning Strategies
The weeks pass quickly and the arrival of January 1st, 2015 will close the doors to some tax planning strategies and opportunities. Fortunately, there is still time for a careful review of your year-end tax planning strategy.
1. Defer your income
If you’re not in the top tax bracket, but just about to cross into the next one, it is wise to search for ways to defer receiving money whenever you can.
Ask your boss to hold your bonus until January, put more money into your tax-deferred workplace retirement plan, hold off on selling assets that will produce a capital gain. If you’re self-employed, don’t send out invoices for year-end jobs until early 2015.
2. Add to your 401(k)
Even if you’re nowhere near the top tax bracket, putting as much money as you can into your company’s 401(k) or similar workplace retirement savings plan is a good idea. Since most plan contributions are made before taxes are taken out, you’ll have a bit less income that the Internal Revenue Service can touch.
3. Harvest tax losses
If you have assets in your portfolio that have lost value, they could be a valuable tax tool. Capital losses can be used to offset any capital gains. If you have more losses than gains, you can use up to $3,000 to reduce your ordinary income amount. More than $3,000 can be carried forward to future tax years.
Capital losses could be especially helpful to higher income taxpayers facing the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income
4. Make the most of your home
Homeownership provides a variety of tax breaks, some of which you can use by year-end to reduce your current year’s tax bill. Make your January mortgage payment by Dec. 31 and deduct the mortgage interest on your coming tax return. The same is true for early property tax payments.
5. Bunch your deductible expenses
To get over these deduction hurdles, start consolidating eligible expenses now. This strategy, known as bunching deductions, will push them into one tax year where you can make maximum tax use of them. The sooner you start this process, the better. It’s much easier to plan your costs now than scramble to come up with eligible expenditures as December’s days fade.
6. Add to or open an IRA
If you have an IRA account or open a traditional IRA, you might be able to deduct at least some of your contributions on your tax return. If you don’t make a lot of money, your contribution also could be used to claim the retirement savings contributions credit.
7. Be generous to charities
As you’re putting together your holiday shopping list, be sure to include charitable gifts that could help reduce your tax bill. In addition to the usual dollar donations or household goods and clothing, consider some less traditional ways to give to charities.
Many groups will accept vehicles, with some even making arrangements to pick them up.
Donate stock or mutual funds that you’ve held for more than a year but that no longer fit your investment goals. The charity gets the asset to hold or sell, and your portfolio rebalancing nets you a deduction for the asset’s value at the time of gifting.
8. Pay college costs early
The spring semester’s bill isn’t due until January, but it might be worthwhile to pay it before year’s end. By doing so, you can claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit on this year’s tax return.
The American Opportunity credit is in effect through the 2017 tax year. It’s worth up to $2,500 with up to 40 percent of the new credit refundable. That means you could get as much as $1,000 back as a tax refund even if you are not owed any taxes.
9. Adjust your withholding
Most of us cover our eventual tax bills through payroll withholding. Ideally, you want the amount coming out of your paychecks throughout the year to be as close as possible to your final tax bill. If you have too much withheld, you’ll get a refund; too little withheld will mean you’ll owe taxes when you file.
You can correct the imbalance by adjusting your payroll withholding now. The correct amount taken out of your final 2014 paychecks will help ensure that you don’t over- or underpay the tax collector next filing season.
At GBS Group we believe that proper tax planning is vital for having a well balance and healthy financial outlook. If you would like more information on these and any other ways to maximize your fiscal outcome, contact us and our trusted experts will help you get to where you want to go.