Year End Tax Planning by Teri Kay, CPA
Planning is important to successfully minimize your personal and company taxes. While some people think “tax season” is March and April, it really starts in November.
Year-end tax planning begins with an estimate of your personal and/or business income, expenses, assets and liabilities based on year-to-date numbers and estimates through the end 2011 and a projection for 2012.
There are many legal and ethical strategies available to minimize taxes over time.
In creating your tax plan consider a number of factors:
- How close are you to the next higher or lower tax bracket this year and next?
- Are you expecting any life changes (marriage, divorce, retirement, babies, etc.) in the current or next year?
- What types of income and expenses do you have (wages, interest, dividends, capital gains, passive, itemized deductions, business losses)?
- Do you have or expect to have any unusual income or expenses in 2011 or 2012 (sale of property, debt forgiveness, bad debt from a customer or client)?
- Do you have any unused carryovers from earlier years (net operating losses, capital losses, charitable, passive losses, at-risk basis limitations, investment interest expense, credits)?
- How much have you already contributed to your deductible and non-deductible retirement accounts (IRA, Roth, SEP, Keogh, HSA, etc)?
- Can you benefit from any expiring tax laws?
- Do you need any new business equipment? How much business equipment have you added already in 2011? Do you plan any major additions – boat, plane, auto – personally?
- If your pass-through company has losses in 2011, do you have sufficient basis left to benefit from those losses?
Great tax planning is not about picking five “tried and true” tax strategies and applying them. It is analyzing your personal situation and unique tax and financial attributes and finding solutions that will best suit your needs.
There are many standard tax reduction concepts if you have capital gains, if you are on the border between itemizing and claiming the standard deduction each year, etc. A great tax plan should take into account the unique aspects of your personal situation.