Action you can take before time runs out
Here are five tax saving ideas that can be used by most taxpayers. But act soon, there's not much time left until our tax year comes to an end.
1 Make late-year charitable donations. Consider making donations with appreciated stock you have owned over one year. You can typically receive the higher value donation without paying capital gain taxes. Also consider non-cash donations of items in good or better condition. But pay attention to your total deductions. With higher standard deductions, you should use your charitable giving to ensure you can maximize your tax savings. This may mean making next year's donations this year!
2 Make contributions to your qualified retirement plans. Remember there is still time to make contributions to traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs and 401(k) accounts to reduce your taxable income this year. While you're at it, take a look at next year's limits and plan to increase your contributions to make next year's tax obligation even better than this years.
3 Take distributions from your retirement accounts. If you are over 70 1/2 years old you will need to take required minimum distributions. The penalty for not taking minimum distributions is 50%. But if you are over 59 years old you should also be taking distributions from tax deferred accounts in the most tax efficient way possible. This may mean taking some money out, even it you do not quite need it now.
4 Take any final investment gains and losses. Capital losses can be used to net against your capital gains. You can also take up to $3,000 of capital losses in excess of capital gains each year and use it to lower your ordinary income.
5 Consider making any final gifts to dependents. You may provide gifts of up to $15,000 per year per person. Remember all gifts given (birthday, holiday and cash) count towards this total. This can provide a future source of possible investment income for your kids. While the "kiddie tax" may ultimately come into play, this can be avoided by using the gifts to fund a 529 college savings account.
With the new tax rules in place beginning in 2018, tax planning is more important than ever. You still have time to lower your tax bill, but the clock is ticking.