There are numerous things that investors can and perhaps should do before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, such as maxing out retirement or college savings account contributions, and harvesting tax losses.
Read on to find out what should probably be on your investing checklist for the end of the year, what to consider tackling before your tax return is due in April, and how some simple moves this December can help set you up nicely for 2023 and beyond.
End-of-Year vs Tax-Day Deadlines
Before diving into the year-end investing checklist, it’s important to remember that there are a couple of key distinctions when it comes to the calendar. Specifically, though the calendar year actually ends on December 31 of any given year, Tax Day is typically in the middle of April (April 15, usually). That’s the due date to file your federal tax return, unless you file for an extension.
As it relates to your investing checklist, this is important to take into account because some things, like maxing out your 401(k) contributions must be done before the end of the calendar year, while others (like maxing out your IRA contributions) can be done up until the Tax Day deadline.
In other words, some items on the following investing checklist will need to be crossed off before New Year’s Day, while others can wait until April.
7 Things to Do With Your Investments No Later Than Dec. 31
Here are seven things investors can or should consider doing before the calendar rolls around to 2023.
1. Max Out 401(k) Contributions
Perhaps the most beneficial thing investors can do for their long-term financial prospects is to max out their 401(k) contributions. A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement account, where workers can contribute tax-deferred portions of their paychecks.
There are also Roth 401(k) accounts, which may be available to you, which allow you to preemptively pay taxes on the contributions, allowing for tax-free withdrawals in the future.
You can only contribute a certain amount of money per year into a 401(k) account, however. For 2022, that limit is $20,500, and will increase to $22,500 in 2023. For those over 50, you can contribute an additional $6,500 for 2022, for a total of $27,000. In 2023, the contribution limit rises to $22,500, with a $7,500 catch-up provision if you’re 50 and up, for a total of $30,000.
So, if you are able to, it may be beneficial to contribute up to the $20,500 limit for 2022 before the year ends. After December 31, any contributions will count toward the 2023 tax year.
2. Harvest Tax Losses
Tax-loss harvesting is an advanced but popular strategy that allows investors to sell some investments at a loss, and then write off their losses against their gains to help lower their tax burden.
Note that investment losses realized during a specific calendar year must be applied to the gains from the same year, but losses can be applied in the future using a strategy called a tax-loss carryforward. With 2022 having been a particularly rough year in the markets, this may be a beneficial tactic for investors to add to their year-end To Do list. Again, though, tax-loss harvesting can be a fairly complicated process, and it may be best to consult with a professional
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3. Consider 529 Plan Contributions
A 529 college savings plan is used to save for education expenses. There are a few different types, but the main thing that investors should focus on, as it relates to their year-end investing checklist, is to stash money into it before January as some states allow 529 contributions as tax deductions.
There is no federal contribution limit for 529 plans in 2022 — instead, the limit is set at the state level. Gift taxes, however, may apply, which is critical to consider.
4. Address Roll-Over Loose Ends
Another thing to check on is whether there are any loose ends to tie up in regard to any account roll-overs that you may have executed during the year.
For example, if you decided to roll over an old 401(k) plan into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) at some point during the year, you’ll want to make sure that the funds ended up with your new brokerage or retirement plan provider.
It may be easy to overlook, but sometimes checks get sent to the wrong place or other wires get crossed, and it can be a good idea to double-check everything is where it should be before the year ends.
5. Review Insurance Policies
Some employers require or encourage employees to opt into certain benefits programs every year, including insurance coverage. This may or may not apply to your specific situation, but it can be a good idea to check and make sure your insurance coverage is up to date — and that you’ve done things like named beneficiaries, and that all relevant contact information is also current.
6. Review Your Estate Plan
This is another item on your investing checklist that may not necessarily need to be done by the end of the year, but it’s a good idea to make a habit of it: Review your estate plan, or get one started!
Your estate plan includes several important documents that legally establish what happens to your money and assets in the event that you die. If you don’t have one, you should probably make it an item on your to-do list. If you do have one, you can use the end of the year as a time to check in and make sure that your heirs or beneficiaries are designated, that there are instructions about how you’d prefer your death or incapacitation to be handled, and more.
7. Donate Appreciated Stocks
Finally, you can and perhaps should consider donating stocks to charity by the end of the year. There are a couple of reasons to consider a stock donation: One, you won’t pay any capital gains taxes if the shares have appreciated, and second, you’ll be able to snag a tax deduction for the full market value of the shares at the time that you donate them. The tax deduction limit is for up to 30% of your adjustable gross income — a considerable amount.
Remember, though, that charitable donations must be completed by December 31 if you hope to deduct the donation for the current tax year.
3 Things for Investors to Do by Tax Day 2023
As mentioned, there are a few items on your investing checklist that can be completed by Tax Day, or in mid-April 2023. Here are the few outstanding items that you’ll have several more months to complete.
1. Max Out IRA Contributions
One of the important differences between 401(k)s and IRAs is the contribution deadline. While 401(k) contributions must be made before the end of the calendar year, investors can keep making contributions to their IRA accounts up until Tax Day 2023, within the contribution limits of course.
So, if you want to max out your IRA contributions for 2022, the limit is $6,000. But people over 50 can contribute an additional $1,000 — and you’ll have until April to contribute for 2022 and still be able to deduct contributions from your taxable income (assuming it’s a tax-deferred IRA, not a Roth IRA).
Further, the limit will increase to $6,500 in 2023, with the same $1,000 catch-up provision, and some taxpayers may be able to deduct their contributions, too, under certain conditions.
2. Max Out HSA Contributions
If you have a health savings account (HSA), you’ll want to make sure you’ve hit your contribution limits before Tax Day, too. The contribution limit for HSAs is $3,650 (generally), though depending on your age and a few other factors, there may be some additional things to consider.
3. Take Your RMD (if Applicable)
If you’re retired, you may need to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from your retirement account by the beginning of April next year, if it’s your first RMD. But if you’ve taken an RMD before, you’ll need to do so before the end of 2022 — so, be sure to check to see what deadline applies to your specific situation.
This generally only applies to people who are in their 70s, but it may be worth discussing with a professional what the best course of action is, especially if you have multiple retirement accounts.
Doing a year-end financial review can be extremely beneficial, and a checklist can help make sure you don’t miss any important steps for 2022 — and set you up for 2023. That investing checklist should probably include things like maxing out contributions to your retirement accounts, harvesting tax losses in order to manage your tax bill, and possibly even taking minimum required distributions. Everyone’s situation is different, so you’ll need to tailor your investing checklist accordingly.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that you may have until Tax Day in April to get some of it done — though it may be good practice to knock everything out by the end of the year. If you’re only beginning to invest, keeping this list handy and reviewing it annually can help you establish healthy financial habits.
You can also start next year off strong by opening an investment account with SoFi Invest, and using SoFi’s secure, streamlined app to buy stocks, ETFs, and more.
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