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Tax Center: Planning and Tips

2017 Tax Planning Basics:

As 2017 heads to a close, many tax saving moves can be lost. It’s important to evaluate your tax situation now, before December 31st, while there’s still time to affect your bottom line for the 2017 tax year.

Timing is everything

Consider any opportunities you have to defer income to 2018. For example, you may be able to defer a year-end bonus, or delay the collection of business debts, rents, and payments for services. Doing so may allow you to put off paying tax on the income until next year. If there's a chance that you'll be in a lower income tax bracket next year, deferring income could mean paying less tax on the income as well.

Similarly, consider ways to accelerate deductions into 2017. If you itemize deductions, you might accelerate some deductible expenses like medical expenses, qualifying interest, or state and local taxes by making payments before year end.

Some things to review:

  • What if you'll be in a higher tax bracket in 2018? If you know that you'll be paying taxes at a higher rate in 2018 (say, for example, that an out of work spouse will be reentering the workforce in January), you might take the opposite tack. Consider whether it makes sense to try to accelerate income into 2017, and to postpone deductible expenses until 2018.
  • Review your investment portfolios. If you have some gains during the year that will be taxable, it may be a time to sell some items that may generate a loss to bring your taxable income down. Also, if you routinely make donations to a charitable organization and you have some stocks with a large appreciated value, it may be good planning to donate the stock directly, avoiding a taxable gain while having a possible charitable deduction.
  • If you’re over 70 ½ years old and mandated to take Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from an IRA, it may be good planning to direct part or all of that RMD to a charitable organization, avoiding the income being included into your adjusted gross income.
  • De-clutter and reap a possible tax deduction. All those items you drop off at a local charitable organization can really add up. You must document, by listing the items you are donating, their approximate value, and get a receipt from the organization. If you’re already itemizing your deductions, the extra charitable contribution deduction is just “gravy”.
  • Check your withholdings. If you owe too much at the end of the year, the IRS can assess you penalties. Also, if you’re due a refund and receiving one of the refundable tax credits (such as EITC), your refund may be held up and not available to you until late February. Proper planning with your tax professional can help you maximize your monthly take home while avoiding any penalty.
  • Contributions to an IRA, if you’re eligible, are also a great way to decrease your taxable income. The current maximum for those eligible is $5,500 per year or $6,500 per year if you’re age 50 or older. While these contributions can be made up until the filing date of your tax return in 2018, if you’re participating in a retirement plan through your employer, you may want to consider making an extra contribution to that plan prior to December 31st.

Meeting with a tax advisor, such as the professionals with Williams Capital Corporation, could save you taxes, even if you think your return is simple.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

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