Dec

4

End-of-the-Year Money Moves

Here are some things you might want to do before saying goodbye to 2017.

What has changed for you in 2017? Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and 2018 begins.

Even if your 2017 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little more wealth.

Do you itemize deductions? If you do, great. Now would be a good time to get the receipts and assorted paperwork together. Besides a possible mortgage interest deduction, you might be able to take a state sales tax deduction, a student loan interest deduction, a military-related deduction, a deduction for the amount of estate tax paid on inherited IRA assets, an energy-saving deduction – there are so many deductions you can potentially claim, and now is the time to meet with your tax professional to strategize how to claim as many as you can.

Could you ramp up 401(k) or 403(b) contributions? Contribution to these retirement plans lower your yearly gross income. If you lower your gross income enough, you might be able to qualify for other tax credits or breaks available to those under certain income limits. Note that contributions to Roth 401(k)s and Roth 403(b)s are made with after-tax rather than pre-tax dollars, so contributions to those accounts are not deductible and will not lower your taxable income for the year. They will, however, help to strengthen your retirement savings.2

Are you thinking of gifting? How about donating to a charity or some other kind of 501(c)(3) non-profit organization before 2017 ends? In most cases, these gifts are partly tax deductible. You must itemize deductions using Schedule A to claim a deduction for a charitable gift.3

If you donate appreciated securities you have owned for at least a year, you can take a charitable deduction for their fair market value and forgo the capital gains tax hit that would result from their sale. If you pour some money into a 529 college savings plan on behalf of a child in 2017, you may be able to claim a partial state income tax deduction (depending on the state).4,5

Of course, you can also reduce the value of your taxable estate with a gift or two. The federal gift tax exclusion is $14,000 for 2017. So, as an individual, you can gift up to $14,000 to as many people as you wish this year. A married couple can gift up to $28,000 to as many people as they desire in 2017. Unfortunately, the I.R.S. prohibits a current-year income tax deduction for the value of a non-charitable gift. (Note that the gift tax exclusion rises to $15,000 in 2018.)6

While we’re on the topic of estate planning, why not take a moment to review the beneficiary designations for your IRA, your life insurance policy, and workplace retirement plan? If you haven’t reviewed them for a decade or more (which is all too common), double-check to see that these assets will go where you want them to go should you pass away. Lastly, look at your will to see that it remains valid and up-to-date.

Should you convert all or part of a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA? You will be withdrawing money from that traditional IRA someday, and those withdrawals will equal taxable income. Withdrawals from a Roth IRA you own are not taxed during your lifetime, assuming you follow the rules. Translation: tax savings tomorrow. Before you go Roth, you do need to make sure you have the money to pay taxes on the conversion amount. If you go Roth this year and change your mind, the I.R.S. gives you until October 15, 2018 to undo the conversion.7

Can you take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit? The AOTC allows individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less (and joint filers with MAGI of $160,000 or less) a chance to claim a credit of up to $2,500 for qualified college expenses. Phase-outs kick in above those MAGI levels.4

What can you do before they ring in the New Year? Talk with a financial or tax professional now rather than in February or March. Little year-end moves might help you improve your short-term and long-term financial situation.

Citations.
1 – kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T052-C032-S014-a-quick-primer-on-tax-loss-harvesting.html [3/17]
2 – chicagotribune.com/business/ct-roth-401k-20171030-story.html [10/30/17]
3 – irs.gov/taxtopics/tc506 [9/21/17]
4 – fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/taking-tax-deductions [6/21/17]
5 – thebalance.com/best-states-for-college-savers-3193238 [5/24/17]
6 – irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Frequently-Asked-Questions-on-Gift-Taxes [10/23/17]
7 – marketwatch.com/story/when-youre-allowed-a-tax-free-do-over-with-your-ira-2017-07-27 [7/27/17]

This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results. Market indices discussed are unmanaged. Investors cannot invest in unmanaged indices. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., for Mark Lund, Mark is known as a Wealth Advisor, The 401k Advisor, Investor Coach, The Financial Advisor, The Financial Planner and author of The Effective Investor. Mark offers investment advisory services through Stonecreek Wealth Advisors, Inc. an independent, fee-only, Registered Investment Advisor firm providing investment and retirement planning for individuals and 401k consulting for small businesses. Stonecreek is located in Park City, Salt Lake City, Murray City, West Jordan City, Sandy City, Draper City, South Jordan City, Provo City, Orem City, Lehi City, Highland City, Alpine City, and American Fork City in Utah.

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About the Author ()

Mark K. Lund is the Chief Advisor, CEO, and author of The Effective Investor. He has written articles for or been quoted in: The Wall Street Journal, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Enterprise Newspaper, The Utah Business Connect Magazine, and Newsmax.com, just to name a few.  Mark publishes two newsletters called, “The Mark Lund Growth Report" and "Mark Lund on Money.”  Mark regularly provides CE (continuing education) courses for CPA’s. You may also have seen him on KUTV channel 2, or as a guest speaker at a local association or business.  Mark's focus is to help people with their investments and retirement plans. In Mark’s spare time he enjoys riding his dirt bike, playing with his kids, fishing, reading, writing, and going on walks with his best friend, his wife. To learn more about Mark please visit his personal website at www.TheEffectiveInvestor.com

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