If you want to take your own bull by the proverbial horns, I have some quick ideas for you to save on your 2019 taxes. Here we go…
“Real World” Personal Strategy Note
Year-End Moves to Save on Your 2019 Taxes
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” -Wayne Gretzky
Alright, necessary disclaimer: this is generalized advice — your particular situation might call for different moves.
So give us a call: (503) 648-6184 if you want to discuss a private tax planning appointment for year-end moves, and we’ll see what is available.
So let’s dive in. Much of this is the same kind of advice I gave last year, but the timing is perfect. After all, 12/31/19 is barreling towards us.
1) Double-check your ACTUAL withholding and estimated taxes. Did you owe money or get a refund last year and not much has changed? If you are at risk of incurring penalties for underpayments, consider increasing your withholding rate in your December paychecks or bumping up the amount of an estimated tax payment. The IRS offers a withholding calculator (which is actually quite helpful, believe it or not) that can help you evaluate your situation.
We HATE tax penalties at Above All Accounting, Inc., Lets avoid them together, shall we?
Also, if your projected AGI will be higher, and you are a salaried employee, the easiest way to keep your earnings down is to ask your boss to push any year-end bonus into the next year. If you’re your own boss, don’t invoice for recent work until after Jan. 1.
2) Evaluate where you are with charity giving. If you already know that you are itemizing, and you plan to give year-end gifts, there are a whole host of strategies that can deepen your charitable impact AND more pronouncedly help your tax bill at the same time. Gifts of appreciated securities can be great as you can deduct the “fair market value” deduction for charitable contributions of appreciated property (like stock and real estate), and you can still avoid capital gain tax on the appreciation when you contribute appreciated property to charity outright. That way, you can avoid part of the gain tax and defer the rest if you use the property to create a life income gift.
And if you have a big chunk to give, you can “bunch” your contributions and indicate that you want the contributions to count for more than one tax year — which helps the charity, and might help your FUTURE tax bills at the same time.
3) Be careful about mortgage moves. In the past, making an additional mortgage payment was an easy way to reduce your tax, but the new tax laws lowered the amount of debt taxpayers can use to claim a mortgage interest deduction — from $1.1 million to $750,000. But there are grandfathering rules for some pre-existing mortgages in that range, and we can help if it applies to you.
4) Catch up on retirement savings. Contributions can still be made pre-tax, which reduces
taxable income dollar-for-dollar. The 2019 contribution limits are $19,000 for
qualified plans and $6,000 for IRAs, with additional catch-up contribution
amounts permitted for taxpayers age 50 or over at the end of the calendar
Note that we cannot “re-characterize” a Roth conversion after 12/31 … so let’s make sure you are clear on if you want the Roth benefits or not for your IRA.
5) Don’t forget to give tax-free gifts and use your FSA funds. Both of those options reset on 1/1/19, so remember that you can give up to $15K tax-free to individuals before 12/31 (which, so you know, is NOT limited to family.) And if you have FSA funds to use, make sure you take full advantage before the year ends.
That’s all I have for now from a generalized point of view. Though, of course, I reserve the right to offer you MORE advice in the next couple weeks. 🙂
And if you want to get more granular about your particular situation, well, we’re only a phone call away.
Hope to see you in here soon…