As the Christmas season hits full stride, that last thing you probably want to think about is taxes. In fact, I’m sorry to even mention the word at this time of great joy and anticipation. But since I already said it, let’s get this party started shall we?
The end of the year marks an opportunity to make some moves that may save you a few bucks in taxes come April and beyond, which can help alleviate the burden of that Christmas credit card balance you’re dreading seeing on your next statement. And while tax savings often involves sending money away first before seeing the benefit, I propose we consider these moves as a part of a big ‘This Is Your Life’ spreadsheet, not just December’s cash flow snapshot.
Here are a few thoughts to consider before the end of 2018:
- Have you made – or will you make – any charitable contributions that are tax deductible? These not only make the heart feel good but they can reduce your tax bill as well. Beware, however, that the new tax law has complicated this for many of us. Because while a much larger standard deduction this year sounds good, it can have the effect of making normally deductible gifts not actually deductible. You may wish to consider bunching your charitable contributions and deductible expenses over two or three tax years. What does this mean? Click here to read about the strategy I proposed back in January.
- Are you over 59-1/2 but not yet 70-1/2 years old? Do you have money invested in tax-deductible accounts like 401(k), 403(b), SEP, or IRAs that you don’t expect to need or use until much later in life, post-70-1/2? If so, it may make sense to consider strategic withdrawals now or Roth IRA Conversions each year in order to avoid a big tax problem after age 70-1/2. This strategy may work best if you begin it in the current tax year rather than waiting. Guess when that is? December 31st. Call or email us if you think this is something you’d like to learn more about.
- Max out tax-deductible account contributions. While you may still have until April to add to your IRA or Roth IRA for 2018 that’s not true for your 401(k) or your spouse’s company retirement plan. Having a strategy for such contributions before the end of the year may help ensure you’re not missing a deadline or opportunity. Again, let us know if we can help you think through your options.
Ultimately, none of us wants to pay more than our necessary share of taxes. Patriotism can be demonstrated in other ways I suppose. With a dose of forethought and planning, you can ensure that you’re making the best of the tax law and reducing possible regret. After all, I’d rather see you regret wearing that awful Christmas sweater than missing out on some tax savings. Focus your generosity on your loved ones this year rather than the IRS.
Also, if you’d like us to introduce you to a tax accountant, we’d be happy to. Just reply to this email or give us a call at (419) 931-0704.
All the best,
Adam Cufr, RICP®