Year-end financial planning is crucial this year as changes to the tax code loom. Americans should use tax deductions that exist now, because many are slated to disappear on Dec. 31 under a rewritten tax code. Clients should be aware of these four possible changes in the tax bills that may directly impact your situation, and will likely to be finalized by Christmas:
1. This could be the last year that you will be able to deduct all state and local taxes (SALT), medical and dental deductions (must exceed 10 percent of AGI for those under age 65, 7.5 percent for those above); and miscellaneous deductions, like the write-off of tax-prep fees, job-hunting and business car expenses, and professional dues, if they totaled more than two percent of AGI. Try to bunch expenses before the end of the year, so that you can take as many deductions as possible.
2. Deductions for property taxes over $10,000 may disappear and the mortgage interest deduction may be limited to debt under $500,000 when the dust settles. Homeowners can consider pre-paying taxes or making January’s mortgage payment in December.
3. A tax change that could go into effect next year forces investors to sell stocks on a first-in, first-out basis. That makes it harder for investors to sell losers in taxable accounts to offset gains. If you want to take advantage this year, you can sell losing stocks this year according to some specific rules. If you have more losses than gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 against ordinary income; and if you have more than $3,000, you can carry over that amount to future years. If you’re going to sell something and replace it within 30 days, the new asset can’t be “substantially identical,” which is known as the wash sale rule. Avoid it by waiting 31 days and repurchase what you sold, or replace it with something that’s close, but not the same as the one you sold.
4. Another possible tax change lowers the tax on income flowing through some kinds of small businesses and solo enterprises. If you are self-employed, consider waiting until January to invoice for some work. The change also means contributions you make to a small business retirement plan this year are even more valuable than usual. If you open a qualified retirement account by Dec. 31, you have until the day you file your taxes next year, including extensions, to make this year’s contribution. One plan to consider is the solo or one-participant 401(k) plan, which allows total contributions of up to $54,000 for 2017.
We encourage you to contact our office at 330-598-2208 with any questions to help you plan year-end financial strategies in an unusually tumultuous year.