Year End Tax Planning: TCJA Edition

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Year End Tax Planning: TCJA Edition

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) last December, year-end tax planning could impact even more individuals. A lot has already been written about how it has limited two key itemized deductions: mortgage interest and state and local taxes (SALT). There are also many potential benefits. The TCJA expands the standard deduction and availability of the child tax credit, made reforms to itemized deductions and the alternative minimum tax, and lowers marginal tax rates. Given these changes, here are some things to consider going into the end of the year:

 

  • Is Tax Deferral Still the Way to Go?- Some individual taxpayers will see their effective tax rate go down in 2018. If you are one of those people, you may want to rethink making tax-deferred contributions to your retirement savings. If you are already in a low tax bracket, you may see more of a long-term benefit by contributing after tax money. In addition to a Roth IRA, some employer retirement plans allow for Roth contributions. Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. There are some limitations and restrictions. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. It should also be noted that future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the tax benefits of Roth IRAs.

 

  • Should You Convert Tax-Deferred to Roth?- In addition to making new retirement contributions with after tax money, you may benefit from converting money you have in a tax-deferred retirement account to a Roth IRA. Keep in mind, that any money that you convert to a Roth IRA is generally subject to income taxation in the year that you do it. But over the long term, the money will continue to grow tax-free and won’t be subject to required minimum distributions (RMD) in retirement. Roth conversions must be done by December 31st. Traditional IRA account owners should consider the tax ramifications, age and income restrictions in regard to executing a conversion from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. 

 

  • Should You Take Out More Than Your RMD?- For some retirees with a low income or high medical deductions (threshold decreased from 10% of AGI to 7.5% for 2018), it may actually make sense to take more out of retirement accounts than the required minimum distribution. Even if you don’t need the money to cover expenses, the amount taken above the RMD can be converted to a Roth.

 

  • Bunching Up Your Deductions- With the combination of the standard deduction being doubled and big-ticket deductions, like mortgage interest and SALT, being limited, it is more difficult to meet the threshold for itemizing deductions. With careful planning, you may be able to bunch up deductions like charitable contributions, medical expenses, and unreimbursed employee expenses in one calendar year to get you over the threshold. For example, if you normally make $5,000 in charitable contributions in a calendar year, consider contributing $10,000 to a charity or donor advised fund, and nothing the following year. The donor advised fund will allow you to take the deduction in the year the contribution is made, but offers discretion to give money out over time to the charities of your choosing. While donor advised funds have many advantages, some disadvantages to be aware of include but are not limited to possible account minimums, strict limits on grant allocations, management fees and the potential that future tax laws may change at any time that may impact the tax treatment and benefits of donor advised funds

 

  • Consider a QCD- If you are already age 70 ½, and making charitable contributions, you may consider a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). A QCD doesn’t give you a charitable deduction but it counts against satisfying your required minimum distribution for the year. Therefore, it is excluded from your taxable income. Like your RMD, the deadline for this distribution is December 31st.

 

Keep in mind that these suggestions are only intended to be used as general information and are not intended to be tax advice. You should always consult a tax professional before making tax planning decisions and work with a trusted financial advisor to see how the recent tax laws can affect your investment plan.

 

 

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member of FINRA/SIPC and investment advice offered through Stratos Wealth Partners Ltd., a Registered Investment Advisor. Stratos Wealth Partners, Ltd. and Lob Planning Group are separate entities from LPL Financial.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.

Stratos Wealth Partners, Lob Planning Group and LPL Financial do not provide legal and/or tax advice or services. Please consult your legal and/or tax advisor regarding your specific situation.