Time to Think About Year-End Financial Strategies
As we roll into fall and the fourth quarter, now is a good time to pause and reflect on proactive ways to set up your finances for 2024.
Economically speaking, we are now in a much different position than last year. The stock market has been favorable, inflation’s trending lower, and our nation’s job situation is slowly improving. Outside of the current and future financial conditions, there are several “good-stewardship” actions you may want to consider before we close out 2023.
1. Actionable Ideas for Year-End
Year-end is a good time to assess your current and future tax liabilities. Keep in mind that the ideas below are for informational purposes only and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make sure to consult with your tax, legal, and accounting professionals before making any year-end tax moves.
Here are a few tax-related questions to consider at year-end:
- Does It Make Sense to Offset Gains with Losses? 2022 was a challenging year for virtually all investors. Does it make sense to sell some of the gains you’ve made this year to offset some of those losses from 2022?Please note, losses do not expire, so there is no rush in taking them. And remember taxes are only one factor to consider when making investment-related decisions.
- Should You Consider a Roth IRA Conversion?1Converting some or allyour Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA affords the opportunity for tax-free withdrawals in the future.If you believe taxes are likely to increase in the future or have no intentions of dropping down your tax bracket in retirement, a Roth Conversion strategy is something to consider. Please keep in mind, any amounts that you choose to convert will be considered taxable income in the year of your conversion. This means you should anticipate a larger-than-expected tax bill in years you employ a Roth Conversion strategy. For this reason,Roth Conversion strategies should be planned carefully by beginning with a more complete tax analysis.One approach that can give you more control of these taxes is to convert smaller amounts over multiple years. This allows you, with some degree of certainty, to pre-determine the taxes you will owe for your Roth Conversion in any particular year. Roth conversions are not in the best interests of everyone, so understanding the pros and cons is essential before making any decisions. Also, tax rules are constantly changing, and there is no guarantee that the tax landscape will remain the same in the years ahead. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals can also be made under certain other circumstances, such as the owner’s death. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.
- Do You Have Items of Worth You Could Donate to Charity? Not all charitable donations must come from your checking account. Consider donating real estate, cars, and other items of notable value. In this way, you can help causes that are important to you while potentially receiving a tax consideration.
- Do You Have “Green” Deductions?2 You may be able to take advantage of certain tax credits for making “green” purchases in 2023. If you have made eligible home improvements that increase your energy efficiency, you could claim a tax credit worth up to $1,200. A new electric vehicle may get you credit of up to $7,500, provided you and the car meet certain requirements. Even used electric vehicle buyers may be eligible for a federal tax credit.
2. Discuss Estate Strategies at Year-End
As you gather with family around the holidays, it may be a great opportunity to review your estate strategy.
Estate and tax considerations often go hand in hand. Many times, as we discuss year-end tax management, we also make estate-related decisions.
Along with managing our client investment portfolios and retirement savings, assisting in creating an estate strategy is another of thoseimportant services that we help navigate.. We can act as the quarterback of your estate team and help coordinate activities with your attorney, tax advisor, and other professionals.
3. Don’t Forget Your Health Flexible Spending Account
If you have an FSA through your employer, remember the “use it or lose it” rule. You may be able to roll over up to $610, which does not count toward the following year's contribution limit—but only if your employer offers this choice. Some employers also provide up to two-and-a-half extra months to spend the funds. Check with your FSA plan or HR department to verify.3
If you do not plan on seeing your doctor or dentist again, there are some products that may count toward your FSA. Sunscreen, baby bottles, contact solutions, hearing aids, and glasses are just a few that might qualify. Some online retailers have created website pages for FSA-eligible products to help shoppers. However, be careful not to purchase too many of the same products, as the IRS does not allow FSA-funded stockpiling.
4. What to do With Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)?
For many of us, year-end is a time for deep-thinking. I’m going to suggest you might take some time and consider how best to use your RMD moving forward. If you are subject to RMDsand don’t need the money to cover living expenses, consider gifting them to your favorite charity. This strategy is referred to as a Qualified Charitable Donation (QCD) and may exempt your RMD from taxation. As you would anticipate there are certain requirements that need to be met to receive tax-free treatment which we are happy to navigate with you and your tax-advisor as needed.
5. Use Year-End to Improve Your Financial Situation and Assess Whether You are on Track to Pursue Your Goals
and assess whether you are on track to pursue your goals.
As financial professionals, we want to help our clients be well positioned for the coming year. If you are not currently working with a financial professional, we would welcome the opportunity to give you our assessment of what's ahead for 2024 and explain how we are positioning our clients for the new year and beyond.
If you have any questions about year-end strategies or anything we covered, please do not hesitate to contact us.
1. BankRate.com, January 27, 2023
2. USAToday, June 16, 2023
3. SHRM.org, October 18, 2022