Friday, December 21, 2018
Your friends at Northeast Financial Strategies want you to know how much your loyalty and friendship are appreciated this year and in all years past. At the holiday season, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our success possible. It is in this spirit we say ... thank you and best wishes for the holidays and a happy new year.
From all of us here at NFS, THANKS!!
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Once again, tax planning for the year ahead presents a number of challenges, this year, primarily due to tax laws changes brought about the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018. These changes include the nearly doubling of the standard deduction, elimination of personal exemptions, and numerous itemized deductions reduced or eliminated. Let's take a closer look.
General Tax Planning
General tax planning strategies for individuals this year include postponing income and accelerating deductions, as well as careful consideration of timing related investments, charitable gifts, and retirement planning. For example, taxpayers might consider using one or more of the following:
- Selling any investments on which you have a gain or loss this year. For more on this, see Investment Gains and Losses, below.
- If you anticipate an increase in taxable income this year, in 2018, and are expecting a bonus at year-end, try to get it before December 31. Keep in mind, however, that contractual bonuses are different, in that they are typically not paid out until the first quarter of the following year. Therefore, any taxes owed on a contractual bonus would not be due until you file your 2019 tax return in 2020. Don't hesitate to call the office if you have any questions about this.
- Prepaying deductible expenses this year using a credit card. Examples of deductible expenses include charitable contributions and medical expenses. This strategy works because deductions may be taken based on when the expense was charged on the credit card, not when the bill was paid. Likewise with checks. For example, if you charge a medical expense in December but pay the bill in January, assuming it's an eligible medical expense, it can be taken as a deduction on your 2018 tax return.
- If your company grants stock options, then you may want to exercise the option or sell stock acquired by exercise of an option this year. Use this strategy if you think your tax bracket will be higher in 2019. Generally, exercising this option is a taxable event; sale of the stock is almost always a taxable event.
- If you're self-employed, send invoices or bills to clients or customers this year to be paid in full by the end of December.
If you anticipate being in a higher tax bracket next year, accelerating income into 2018 is a good idea, especially for taxpayers whose earnings are close to threshold amounts ($200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married filing jointly) that make them liable for additional Medicare Tax or Net Investment Income Tax (see below).
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
The payments, called required minimum distributions (RMDs), are normally made by the end of the year. Those who reached age 70½ during 2018 are covered by a special rule that allows them to wait until April 1, 2019, to take their first RMDs.
This means that those born after June 30, 1947, and before July 1, 1948, are eligible for this special rule for 2018. If they wait until early 2019 to take that first RMD (up until April 1, 2019), it can be counted toward their 2018 RMD, but is still taxable in 2019.
The special April 1 deadline only applies to the RMD for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by Dec. 31. So, for example, a taxpayer who turned 70½ in 2017 (born after June 30, 1946, and before July 1, 1947) and received the first RMD (for 2017) on April 1, 2018, must still receive a second RMD (for 2018) by Dec. 31, 2018.
Types of retirement plans requiring RMDs
The required distribution rules apply to owners of traditional, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs. Roth IRAs don’t require distributions while the original owner is alive. RMDs also apply to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.