2017 brought many changes for individual taxpayers and small business owners and left many scratching their heads. As we approach tax season here are three tips to keep in mind that may help you as you file your tax returns.
1. Consider Tax Loss Harvesting:
Tax Loss Harvesting is the practice of selling a security that has experienced a loss. By realizing, or "harvesting" a loss, investors are able to offset taxes on both gains and income. The sold security is replaced by a similar one, maintaining an optimal asset allocation and expected returns.
Since, the stock markets were up big in 2017, a lot of people have gains instead of losses. However, certain sectors, such as commodities, didn’t do so well. If a portion of your investment portfolio is down from where you purchased the investment, you might want to harvest those losses to offset gains from other investments and reduce your taxable income.
The general rule is that you can deduct losses up to the amount of your capital gains, plus an additional $3,000 – and then roll over any excess losses to be used in future years. Just make sure your tax strategy aligns with your overall investment goals.
2. Take Your Retirement to the Max:
Maxing out your 401(k) contributions can help you avoid significant taxes. The 2017 deferral limit was $18,000 with a $6,000 catch-up if you are over age 50. However, the deferral limit for 2018 increased to $18,500 with a $6,000 catch up for those over age 50.
Great news if you are among the Self-employed! Self-employed individual 401(k) owners can make their “employer” contributions up until April 17, 2018. If you have not already made this contribution and have the ability to contribute you should consider doing so.
Another option is to contribute to an IRA; however, this isn’t as time sensitive. You can contribute to an IRA all the way up to the initial tax filing deadline still deduct the amount against 2017 income.
This means that if you are eligible to deduct IRA contributions and under the age of 50 you can contribute $5,500 for 2017 and $5,500 (total of $11,000) for 2018 up to the initial tax-filling deadline. If you are over age 50, you can make catch up contributions of $1,000 to each year’s contribution for a total of $13,000. To know if you are eligible to deduct on your taxes the IRS provides a simple page to check.
3. Make Tax Planning Less Taxing:
The cost of hiring a Certified Financial Planner™ or tax professional to assist you in navigating the complexities and challenges of tax planning is also something you can write off if you itemize your deductions. Again, like many other itemized deductions, this one could disappear under the proposed tax plans – so now’s the time to invest in consulting an expert.
Taxes are not the most exciting topic to discuss or think about. But, saving money can be! By keeping these simple three tips in mind during the tax season you could save yourself some money.
This information is general in nature and may be subject to change. Financial professionals and other representatives are not authorized to give legal, tax or accounting advice. Applicable laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Any tax statements in this material are not intended to suggest the avoidance of U.S. federal, state or local tax penalties. For advice concerning your individual circumstances, consult a professional attorney, tax advisor or accountant.
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