Dec 11, 2020 2020 Year-End Tax Planning
The window for many tax-saving opportunities closes on December 31. It’s important to evaluate your tax situation, while there’s still time to affect your bottom line for the 2020 tax year.
Your specific circumstances should be considered, so please reach out if you have any questions.
Timing is Everything
Consider any opportunities you have to defer income to 2021. For example, you may be able to defer a year-end bonus, or delay the collection of business debts, rents, and payments for services. Doing so may allow you to postpone paying tax on the income until next year. If there is a chance that you will be in a lower income tax bracket next year, deferring income could mean paying less tax on the income as well.
Similarly, consider ways to accelerate deductions into 2020. If you itemize deductions, you might accelerate some deductible expenses like medical expenses, qualifying interest, or state and local taxes by making payments before year-end. Or you might consider making next year’s charitable contribution this year instead.
Sometimes, however, it may make sense to take the opposite approach — accelerating income into 2020 and postponing deductible expenses to 2021. That might be the case, for example, if you can project that you will be in a higher tax bracket in 2021; paying taxes this year instead of next might be outweighed by the fact that the income would be taxed at a higher rate next year.
Timing of itemized deductions and the increased standard deduction
Recent legislation substantially increased the standard deduction amounts and made significant changes to itemized deductions (generally for 2018 to 2025). It may now be especially useful to bunch itemized deductions in certain years; for example, when they would exceed the standard deduction.
IRAs and Retirement Plans
Take full advantage of tax-advantaged retirement savings vehicles. Traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) plans allow you to contribute funds on a deductible (if you qualify) or pre-tax basis, reducing your 2020 taxable income. Contributions to a Roth IRA (assuming you meet the income requirements) or a Roth 401(k) aren’t deductible or made with pre-tax dollars, so there’s no tax benefit for 2020. But qualified Roth distributions are completely free from federal income tax, which can make these retirement savings vehicles appealing.
For 2020, you can contribute up to $19,500 to a 401(k) plan ($26,000 if you’re age 50 or older) and up to $6,000 to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA ($7,000 if you’re age 50 or older). The window to make 2020 contributions to an employer plan typically closes at the end of the year, while you generally have until the April tax return filing deadline to make 2020 IRA contributions.
Required minimum distributions suspended for 2020
Once you reach age 70½ (age 72 if you reach age 70½ after December 31, 2019), you’re generally required to start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans (special rules apply if you’re still working and participating in your employer’s retirement plan). RMDs have generally been suspended for 2020.
Year-end is a good time to evaluate whether it makes sense to convert a tax-deferred savings vehicle like a traditional IRA or a 401(k) account to a Roth account. When you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, or a traditional 401(k) account to a Roth 401(k) account, the converted funds are generally subject to federal income tax in the year that you make the conversion (except to the extent that the funds represent nondeductible after-tax contributions).
If a Roth conversion does make sense, you will want to give some thought to the timing of the conversion. For example, if you believe that you’ll be in a better tax situation this year than next (e.g., you would pay tax on the converted funds at a lower rate this year), you might think about acting now rather than waiting. (Whether a Roth conversion is appropriate for you depends on many factors, including your current and projected future income tax rates.)
The CARES Act included a temporary tax change that allows taxpayers to claim a deduction of up to $300 for charitable donations during 2020.
Other ways of giving include gifting appreciated assets directly from your taxable accounts. If you are 70.5 years old, Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) from your retirement accounts are excluded from your taxable income.
**If you make any charitable contributions in 2020, it is important to tell your tax preparer to make sure it is accounted for correctly.
2020 Economic Impact Tax Credit (Stimulus payment)
If the IRS determined that you were ineligible for the stimulus that was issued in 2020 because your income was too high in previous years, the IRS will not issue you an economic impact payment in 2020. However, if you meet the eligibility requirements based on your 2020 tax information, you may claim a credit whey you file your 2020 federal income tax return.
Several provisions are extended periodically. The following provisions have been extended through 2020 and are not available for 2021 unless extended by Congress.
- Above-the-line deduction for qualified higher-education expenses
- Ability to deduct qualified mortgage insurance premiums as deductible interest on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040
- Ability to exclude from income amounts resulting from the forgiveness of debt on a qualified principal residence
- Nonbusiness energy property credit, which allowed individuals to offset some of the cost of energy-efficient qualified home improvements (subject to a $500 lifetime cap)
All end-of-year tax planning activities should be submitted by December 21, 2020 to ensure they are honored. Activities after December 21, 2020 will be honored on a best-efforts basis. We will make every effort ensure that requests submitted in 2020 are processed as quickly as possible.
Talk To a Professional
When it comes to year-end tax planning, there’s always a lot to think about. A tax professional can help you evaluate your situation, keep you apprised of any legislative changes, and determine whether any year-end moves make sense for you.
Leonard Rickey Investment Advisors, PLLC (“LRIA”), is an SEC registered investment adviser located in the State of Washington. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. For information pertaining to the registration status of LRIA, please contact LRIA or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov).Thisis provided for general information only and contains information that is not suitable for everyone. As such, nothing herein should be construed as the provision of specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor.
Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.
Leonard Rickey Investment Advisors, PLLC (“LRIA”), is an SEC registered investment adviser located in the State of Washington. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. For information pertaining to the registration status of LRIA, please contact LRIA or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov).
This is provided for general information only and contains information that is not suitable for everyone. As such, nothing herein should be construed as the provision of specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass. This newsletter contains information derived from third party sources. Although we believe these third-party sources to be reliable, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party incorporated herein and take no responsibility therefore.
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