Since 2018 is coming to a close now is the time to take action to proactively reduce your tax liability before the new year. Included are a few strategies that may help with your tax situation:
- Harvest stock losses while substantially preserving one’s investment position. This can be accomplished by selling the shares and buying other shares in the same company or another company in the same industry to replace them, or by selling the original shares, then buying back the same securities at least 31 days later.
- Apply a bunching strategy to deductible contributions and/or payments of medical expenses. Beginning in 2018 the standard deduction has been increased and the itemized deduction of state and local taxes limited to $10,000 which will cause many taxpayers to lose the benefit of their itemized deductions. By bunching multiple years of charitable contributions and medical expenses into one year a taxpayer may create a taxable benefit that would not otherwise exist. For example, a taxpayer who expects to itemize deductions in 2018 and usually contributes a total of $10,000 to charities each year, should consider refunding 2019 and 2020 charitable contributions by contributing a total of $30,000 into a donor advised charitable fund and then distribute the funds to the charities over the following two years.
- Take required minimum distributions (RMDs). Taxpayers who have reached age 70-½ should be sure to take their 2018 RMD from their IRAs or 401(k) plans (or other employer-sponsored retired plans). Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount of the RMD not withdrawn. Those who turned age 70-½ in 2018 can delay the first required distribution to 2019, however, this can result in taking a double distribution in 2019 (the required amount for 2018 and 2019).
- Use IRAs to make charitable gifts. Taxpayers who have reached age 70-½, own IRAs, and are thinking of making a charitable gift should consider arranging for the gift to be made by way of a qualified charitable contribution, or QCD—a direct transfer from the IRA trustee to the charitable organization. Such a transfer (not to exceed $100,000) will neither be included in gross income nor allowed as a deduction on the taxpayer’s return. A qualified charitable contribution before year end is a particularly good idea for retired taxpayers who don’t need all of their as-yet undistributed RMD for living expenses.
- Make year-end gifts. A person can give any other person up to $15,000 for 2018 without incurring any gift tax. The annual exclusion amount increases to $30,000 per donee if the donor’s spouse consents to gift-splitting. Anyone who expects eventually to have estate tax liability and who can afford to make gifts to family members should do so.
These are broad suggestions that will benefit some but not all taxpayers. To discuss and create a personalized tax strategy be sure to contact a WFY tax specialist at email@example.com or (949) 910-2727.
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