Year-End Deadlines & Planning Strategies

Andy Reynolds

This time of year brings many activities in people’s lives; it may be out-of-town friends getting together, families celebrating the holidays, or a corporate outing with colleagues.  Most would agree that the end of the year brings many reasons to be thankful for the lives we all live.  While possibly less of a priority but just as important, the end of the year also brings many deadlines for financial activities.  Below are several deadlines to consider for your personal scenario, as well as a few planning ideas as we look forward to ringing in the new year in just a few short weeks.

Items to Consider Through Ballast:

Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s) – By now, our office has contacted you at least twice about your 2017 RMD.  If you are over 70 and have not already taken your 2017 RMD or have not already discussed your plans of taking your 2017 RMD with our office, please contact us immediately.  TD Ameritrade does not guarantee the ability to process paperwork submitted after December 21st.  Please remember, the IRS penalty for not taking your Required Minimum Distribution is 50% of the amount of the withdrawal.

Roth IRA Conversion Deadline – TD Ameritrade’s deadline for ensuring processing of 2017 Roth Conversions is December 21st.  After this date, all submissions will be completed on a best efforts basis.  If you plan on making a Traditional IRA conversion to a Roth IRA, please contact our office, if you haven’t already.

Charitable Gift Deadlines – Deadlines to ensure processing of charitable gifts of mutual fund shares is December 18th, all other charitable gift deadlines are December 21st.  Gifting of appreciated stock or required distributions coming from a qualified account directly for RMD requirements many times (but not all) results in a better asset to donate rather than cash.  Please consult with us or a tax advisor for more information.

Capital Gains Harvesting – We will be completing our capital gains review and tax loss harvesting throughout the remainder of the month.  Unless you are seeking a specific gain/loss, we will complete this for you and there is nothing for you to do at this point.

Planning Strategies:

Work With an Accountant – As we have likely shared with all of our clients, we strongly encourage everyone to work with an accountant when preparing their tax return.  The tax code is very complex and sometimes difficult to understand.  We believe working with an accountant who provides proactive advice is prudent for nearly all clients.

 Flexible Spending Accounts – Most Flexible Spending Accounts (aka flex plans) have a “use it or lose it” functionality.  If you do not use the funds by the end of the plan year, the funds return back to the employer.  Review this scenario if you participate in an FSA plan.

Health Savings Accounts – We believe that HSA’s are hidden gems within the financial (“medical”) industry.  HSA accounts have contribution limits of $3,400 if individually covered and $6,750 for family coverage, plus a $1,000 catch-up for ages 55+.  The reason we believe HSA’s are hidden gems is that these accounts can be used for: 1) current year medical costs; 2) an emergency fund for medical costs; 3) a fund to offset retirement medical costs; 4) a retirement “account” if withdrawal is delayed until age 65+.  If you are able but not currently contributing to an HSA, this is a great tool to consider.  Generally, the deadline to contribute to an HSA is April 15th of the year following the current tax year.

 Tax Planning for Business Owners – If your business tax year is on the calendar year, yearend purchases can offset income.  Consider whether the purchase is worthwhile to the business or if it is simply to offset income and reduce your taxes.  If it is solely to reduce income, sometimes paying the tax and holding the after tax income may be better than simply purchasing a product/service that you do not truly need.  When considering this strategy, business owners need to also be aware of AMT Tax and discuss this idea with their accountant prior to implementation.

Personal Gifting – Individuals can gift up to $14,000 per year to another individual in 2017.  If you are so inclined, consider the benefits of gifting without having to file a gift tax return.  This also means a married couple to gift their married child and spouse $56,000 per year, without filing a gift tax return ($14,000 from each parent to both the child/spouse).  Additionally, if you are feeling very generous, if specific circumstances are met, a married couple could gift up to $140,000 to a 529 plan account for the benefit of a grandchild, without filing a gift tax return.

End of Year Big Family Goals – The end of the year also provides a great time to reflect upon the previous year with family members.  This is a great time to consider legacy planning, financial goals for 2018, and also to review and reconstruct an updated “b” word…. BUDGET.

As we conclude the year at Ballast, we thank you for your continued support, trust, and introductions to family/friends.  The responsibility that you entrust us with is one that we do not take lightly.  We continue to be honored and humbled by your relationship with our firm.  Thank you.  As you consider 2018, we would encourage you to review the quote below…

 

“New Year’s Day.  A Fresh Start.

A New Chapter in Life Waiting to be Written.

New Questions to be Asked, Embraced, and Loved.

Answers to be Discovered and Lived.

A Transformative Year of Delight and Self-Discovery.

Today, Carve Out a Quiet Interlude for Yourself.

Dream, with a Pen in Hand.

Dreams Give Birth to Change & Change is Unavoidable.”

 

The information above is not conclusive and is general education in nature.  It should not be construed as financial planning advice or tax planning advice and Ballast does not provide tax/legal advice.  The number discussed are in regards to the 2017 calendar year, future years will vary.  Please contact Ballast or consult with a tax professional prior to implementing any idea discussed above.

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