The new tax law could save you money if you plan properly. With only a few months left to impact your tax planning for 2018, it is important to act now.
The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (TCJA) is now in effect for 2018. Taxpayers will need to sort through how these changes affect their tax liability. The differences in what you will be able to deduct or itemize have changed substantially. You may want to meet with your tax adviser as early as possible and use the last few months of the year to prepare for these changes.
Here are some money-saving opportunities:
Consider funding an IRA account. Most employees who have a 401(k) plan may have forgotten they might also be eligible for an IRA. If your tax status is Married Filing Jointly and only one spouse has a 401(k) plan, the other spouse may be eligible for a $5,500 deduction or $6,500 if over the age of 50. Check the IRS limits for Adjusted Gross Incomes that range from $189,000 to $199,000. Those with two qualified employer plans with incomes under $101,000 can both write off the full contribution. This may be enough to reduce other factors, such as eligibility for child care tax credits.
Self-employed individuals may be eligible for an SEP (Simplified Employee Pension). These limits can be substantially higher than an IRA based on business or consulting income. Most plans allow for deductible contributions similar to 401(k) limits — which for 2018 are $18,500 with an age 50-and-older catch-up provision of another $6,000. Higher income earners may also be eligible for a solo 401k or profit-sharing contribution up to 25 percent of your business profit up to $55,000 plus catch-up, depending on your business structure.
Consider maximizing your Health Savings Accounts for the year if they have not already been funded. You may be eligible if you had a high-deductible health insurance plan starting no later than Dec. 1. An individual can contribute a tax-deductible amount of $3,450 with a $1,000 catch-up provision for anyone over age 55 by December 31st. Households with one spouse on family coverage can contribute $6,850 plus the catch-up for those over age 55.
The penalty for not having health insurance does not expire until 2019. Therefore, those who forgo health insurance for 2018 could still face a penalty. You can apply during open enrollment next month to avoid this penalty.
Consider funding college savings plans, which are eligible for the state income tax deduction for children or grandchildren through www.collegeinvest.org. This will save you the 4.63 percent Colorado income tax on your contribution.
If you pay quarterly estimated tax payments, be aware of the new SALT (state and local tax) deduction limit. It used to be that if you paid your fourth-quarter state taxes before year-end, then you would be able to deduct it on your Schedule A the following April. This is now limited to just $10,000 for the entire SALT category, including state income taxes and property taxes.
To help reduce unwanted taxable investment income, consider meeting with your financial adviser for tax loss harvesting and to structure your investments to be tax-efficient. The long-term capital gain and the qualified dividend tax was indexed up slightly but in essence remained the same as 2017. Therefore, if you would have been in a 15 percent tax bracket in 2018 (even though there is not a 15 percent bracket this year) then your long-term capital gains and qualified dividend tax is capped at zero, or 15 percent for higher brackets.
It is important to monitor your tax withholding on your paychecks this year. New withholding tables for employers appear to be shy of the actual tax liability. If you noticed a larger take-home pay starting in February, check with your tax accountant to confirm if you need to increase your withholding for the remainder of the year.
One last major change: The Child Care Credit actually improved for people in higher tax brackets. Parents can now take a credit up to $2,000 if their joint income is under $400,000 or a single parent with income under $200,000.
These tax law changes are important to review as the goal is to keep more of your hard-earned dollars working for you. Take advantage of every deduction you are eligible for and make estimated tax payments on time. Then you won’t have to pay any more than necessary.
(Tax Cuts & Jobs Act changes provided by irs.gov; Colorado 2018 income tax provided by https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/DR1098.pdf)
Patricia Kummer has been a Certified Financial Planner for 30 years and is president of Kummer Financial Strategies LLC., a Registered Investment Advisor with its physical place of business in the State of Colorado. Registration of an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Please visit www.kummerfinancial.com for more information or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov). Any material discussed is meant for informational purposes only and not a substitute for individual advice. Securities offered through MSEC LLC, Member FINRA & SIPC, 5700 W. 112th St., Suite 500, Overland Park, KS 66211.
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