Unless you’re a CPA, chances are tax season is not your favorite time of year. So why are we bringing it up now, at the most wonderful time of the year? Well, there are multiple end-of-year tax moves to make now that can mean filing season may be easier and more affordable.
Read on to learn some smart year-end tax tips to make before next April arrives.
Why End-of-Year Tax Prep Is Important
The end of the year can be an ideal time to get your affairs in order for the upcoming tax season, especially when it comes to reducing your tax burden. One way to do that is through tax-loss harvesting (we’ll explore in detail below). This and other financial moves can be complicated and may require additional preparation or the assistance of a financial planner, which is why an early start can be important.
Ready to learn the details? Here are eight tax moves to make by the end of the year that could save you time and money when April 15 rolls around.
1. Look at Tax Bracket Changes
The Internal Revenue Service can widen tax brackets, meaning you could see lower income taxes this year along with an increased standard deduction. For example, for tax year 2022 (filing in April 2023), the standard deduction for married couples is $25,900; next year it will be $27,700, an increase of $1,800. For single filers, it will increase by $900 from $12,950 in tax year 2022 to $13,850 in tax year 2023.
2. Grab All Available Itemized Deductions
It’s also a great time to review what itemized deductions you may have. Beyond state and local packages, you’ll also want to consider any medical expenses, charitable donations, home mortgage interest, or any losses you may have incurred as the result of a natural disaster or theft.
3. Review Your Contribution Limits
Some of the contributions you can make include putting money in your health savings account (HSA), 529 college savings account, and your IRA for 2022. You’ll have until April 18, 2023, to make these contributions. Making them earlier in the year can give you more time to grow your money on a tax-deferred basis.
Contributions to a traditional IRA or HSA often can reduce your taxable income, as long as you are eligible to contribute and to take a deduction. And while you can also contribute to a Roth IRA, your contributions are aggregated and can’t exceed the annual limit.
Here are contribution limits for tax year 2022 as well as what to expect for 2023:
• IRAs: $6,500 for tax year 2023, up from $6,000 for 2022. Those over 50 can contribute an additional $1,000 per individual.
• HSAs: Contribution limits for 2022 are $3,650 (going up to $3,850 in tax year 2023) for individual coverage. Family coverage is $7,300 in 2022, rising to $7,750 in 2023, with those over 55 eligible to make $1,000 more in catch-up contributions.
• 529s: Contributing to a 529 college savings account for yourself, children or even grandchildren will be limited to $17,000 for individuals ($34,000 per married couple filing jointly) for any number of recipients in 2023.
4. Consider Tax-Loss Harvesting
Tax-loss harvesting can be a great tool to offset losses in non-retirement accounts. Simply put, tax-loss harvesting allows you to use realized losses to offset any gains. So, if you have investments that are below cost basis, you may want to discuss your situation with your financial planner or tax advisor to see if tax-loss harvesting is a good option.
5. Review Your Savings
Were you able to save some money over the last year but haven’t invested it yet? If it’s just sitting in your savings account, now may be the time to consider some tax-efficient investing.
When deploying a tax-efficient investment strategy, it’s crucial to know how an investment is going to be taxed because ideally you’d want more tax-efficient investments in a taxable account. Conversely, you may want to hold investments that can have a greater tax impact in tax-deferred and tax-exempt accounts, where investments can grow tax-free.
Next, it is helpful to know that some investment types are inherently more tax-efficient than others. That insight can aid you in making the best investment choices for the type of investment account that you have. For example, ETFs’ tax efficiency is considered superior to that of mutual funds because they don’t trigger as many taxable events.
Investors can trade ETFs shares directly, while mutual fund trades require the fund sponsor to act as a middle man, activating a tax liability.
Quick Money Tip: If you’re saving for a short-term goal — whether it’s a vacation, a wedding, or the down payment on a house — consider opening a high-yield savings account. The higher APY that you’ll earn will help your money grow faster, but the funds stay liquid, so they are easy to access when you reach your goal.
6. Consider a Roth Conversion
Do you have a traditional IRA and want to convert it into a Roth IRA instead for tax purposes? Deciding to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA comes down to a few factors, all of which are personal to each individual investor. This may make it important to weigh the pros and cons carefully. You may want to discuss this kind of year-end tax move with a financial advisor before making a decision.
That said, to convert into a Roth IRA you must first put money into a traditional IRA account. If you don’t already have one, you will need to open one.
An IRA rollover can happen a few ways:
• Via an indirect rollover, where the owner of the account receives a distribution from a traditional IRA and can then contribute it to a Roth IRA within 60 days
• Via a trustee-to-trustee, or direct rollover, where an account owner tells the financial institution currently holding the traditional IRA assets to transfer an amount directly to the trustee of a new Roth IRA account at a different financial institution
• Via a same trustee transfer, used when a traditional IRA is housed in the same financial institution of the new Roth IRA. The owner of the account alerts the institution to transfer an amount from the traditional IRA to the Roth IRA.
7. Perform a Financial Checkup
There’s a good chance, over the course of the past year, at least one major aspect of your life has changed. This may have included a new job, a new family member, or a new home.
If you’ve experienced changes in your life, consider taking some time now to reevaluate your financial goals, as well as your estate planning. For example, owning a home and being responsible for a mortgage can impact your discretionary spending. Similarly, if you recently became a parent or pet owner, you may think about adjusting your finances to prepare for the added expenses.
Using an end-of-year checklist can help you re-prioritize and re-allocate before tax time arrives.
8. Top up Your 401(k)
The more you contribute to your 401(k) account, the lower your taxable income is in that year, so if you have not reached your maximum contribution, now is the perfect time to do so. If you contribute 15% of your income to your 401(k), for instance, you’ll only owe taxes on 85% of income. Let’s say your annual income is $50,000. If you contribute 15% of your salary annually, $7,500 will be deposited into your 401(k) account and you will be taxed on $42,500. Total tax savings: $2,100.
To max out a 401(k) for 2022, an employee would need to contribute $20,500 in salary deferrals — or $27,000 if they’re over age 50 and playing catch-up. Some investors might think about maxing out their 401(k) as a way of getting the most out of this retirement savings option. Others may want to put the money elsewhere. Again, talking with a financial professional can help you weigh the implications of these end-of-year money moves.
The end of the year is an ideal time to get your affairs in order for the upcoming tax season in April. Specifically, it may be in your best interests to find ways to mitigate your tax bill. You might rethink your retirement-savings vehicles or try tax-loss (selling securities at a loss in order to reduce your tax bill), for instance.
As you are thinking about your finances, perhaps you can take a minute to look at your banking partner. Opening an online bank account with SoFi is one way to help your money grow faster, thanks to our no-fee policy and competitive APY. Plus our Checking and Savings account lets you spend and save in one convenient place.
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.