As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to consider essential financial strategies to optimize your tax planning. The financial landscape is continually evolving, and it’s crucial to stay informed and adapt. Let’s dive into some key considerations:
Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): With the SECURE Act 2.0, the RMD age was raised to 73 for those born in 1951. However, those born in 1950 or earlier still need to take their RMDs by December 31. While RMDs are mandatory, it’s worth noting that for many clients, taking more than the minimum distribution can be beneficial, especially if it helps them take advantage of a lower tax rate. All tax rates are increasing with the expiration of TCJA, so it may be a sound strategy to take out more now if you will be paying a higher rate in the future.
Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs): For clients facing the RMD deadline but not in need of the income, QCDs are an excellent choice. Clients aged 70 1/2 or older can make tax-free charitable contributions of up to $100,000 directly from their IRA. It’s a tax-efficient way to support causes close to their hearts.
Roth Conversion: Given the historically low-income tax rates, many people are converting traditional IRAs into Roth IRAs to avoid potential future tax increases. It’s important to clarify that Roth conversions can be done with an unlimited amount of money, unlike the limited contributions to a Roth. This strategy can offer valuable tax advantages potentially reducing lifetime income tax and income tax on inherited assets.
Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts (QLACs): QLACs allow taxpayers subject to RMDs to reduce their RMD balances by up to $200,000, potentially saving thousands of dollars for those in their mid to late 70s. This can be a valuable tool to manage tax obligations effectively.
Restructuring Income: Sometimes, life brings unexpected windfalls. It’s wise to consider restructuring income to offset unusually high-income years and spread the impact over future years. Options like Oil and Gas Drilling funds or charitable remainder trusts can provide income in subsequent years, helping to manage taxes efficiently. These tools produce a powerful 1-2 punch when developing a Roth conversion plan.
Tax Loss Harvesting: It’s crucial not to let emotions guide your investment decisions. Review your portfolio and consider harvesting tax losses from underperforming investments. This can help offset capital gains and may reduce overall tax liability. You can reinvest the proceeds in safer options like money market accounts or explore fixed annuities for potential tax-deferred growth.
In summary, year-end tax planning is a critical aspect of a financial strategy. These considerations can help your clients make informed decisions, optimize their taxes, and work toward their financial goals. As an attorney and advisor, guiding your clients through these options can be a valuable service and can build deeper client connections.