There are a few months left in the year, giving you time to consider some of these ideas for improving your tax and financial picture:
- Make contributions to qualified retirement plans. You can put up to $5,500 in an IRA or $18,500 in a 401(k) for 2018. If you’re age 50 or older, you can make additional catch-up contributions of $1,000 or $6,000 respectively.
- Consider gifts to family members. You can make tax-free gifts of up to $15,000 per person ($30,000 for married couples). Family members in lower tax brackets might save on capital gains tax if you transfer shares of stock that have gone up in value.
- Review your will or living trust to determine if any changes are necessary, especially in light of the new tax law that took effect this year. You may also want your attorney to review the documents to see if changes are required. When making changes to your estate plans, consider various options for including a gift to charity.
Ask your insurance agent to review existing policies – life, homeowners, auto. You may want to add coverage for long-term care, disability or an umbrella policy.
- Check beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement accounts. These generally pass outside your will or living trust, so the beneficiary designations should be coordinated with the rest of your plans. You can name charity the beneficiary of retirement accounts and avoid the income tax that would be owed if the funds were left to family members.
- Meet with your investment advisor to review your portfolio. Are your investments still the right mix for your age, income and risk tolerance? Consider transferring some appreciated assets to charity before year’s end to secure an income tax deduction if you itemize.
- If you’re age 70½ or older, make sure you’ve taken all your required minimum distributions from retirement accounts, to avoid a 50% tax. A better idea might be to have some of the distribution sent directly to charity. Although there is no charitable deduction available, you’ll save taxes anyway by avoiding the income tax that would normally be owed.