July 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Quick Tax Tips for Year-End 2015

The period of time from late November until the end of December is known as the “holiday season” in America. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American will spend $805 during the 2015 holiday season. By the way, that’s not $805 per family, but $805 per person.

First, you have Black Friday. But Black Friday doesn’t start on Friday because apparently we need two Fridays that week to shop, because, you know, just in case we missed a deal on the first Friday. Luckily we get a short break until Cyber Monday. But don’t think Cyber Monday is just Monday, because that would just be crazy talk. We have a full week of Cyber Monday to ensure we get in those cyber deals because no one likes to miss a cyber deal. That’s why we all need to get text alerts from DansDeals. No one wants to be the one idiot who missed the $12 flight to Israel. So, just to get everything straight so far, we have two Fridays, followed by a Saturday and Sunday and then seven Mondays in a row. So we’re set now, right? Not even close.

Then you’ve got Chanukah and all the presents that go along with it. Sure, we like to tell our kids that they’re not getting presents every night because we’re pretty sure there’s some kids in a remote village in Africa who don’t get any Chanukah presents. But, let’s be honest, as a kid is there anything more disappointing than lighting a menorah and then getting nothing? So they still end up with presents most nights. To top it all off, this past week the toll on the GW Bridge went up…again. I’m not sure what it’s up to now, but it has to be somewhere close to $700 each crossing ($699 with E-Z Pass). By this time next year, it will cheaper to rent a plane and parachute into work.

With all this outflow of cash happening, you need to start thinking about saving some money. By starting to think about taxes right now you may be able to save thousands. Most Americans don’t start thinking about their taxes until those tax statements start flooding their mail in February. There’s a couple of problems with this approach: (1) it may be too late to do anything about certain tax breaks, since many have a December 31 deadline, and (2) by waiting to contact your accountant until he’s already swamped with tax returns, it increases the chances that something may slip through the cracks.

To make your life a little easier, here’s a quick list of some tax-planning items you should think about right now.

Charitable Donations: The deadline to get your charitable donations in by is December 31. So, if you are planning on a cash donation or donating clothing, now is the time to act. Also, consider donating appreciated stocks since you can deduct the fair market value without paying anything out of pocket.

Review Your Stock Portfolio: Take a look at your stock portfolio and see what you want to unload. You may be able to offset short-term capital gains, which are taxed at a higher rate, with long-term capital losses, which are taxed at a lower rate. In other words, you can make high taxes disappear by using low-taxed losses. You can also use up to $3,000 of capital losses to offset your ordinary income.

IRA Contributions: Consider contributing to an IRA. You have until April 15, 2016, to contribute to your IRA and still have it count towards your 2015 tax year. You can put up to $5,500 in your IRA account, and if you qualify for a tax deduction that could save you well over $1,000 in taxes. Contact your tax accountant to see if you qualify for this tax deduction.

Convert to a Roth IRA: Speaking of IRA accounts… now may be the time to consider converting your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. You fund a Roth IRA with post-tax dollars. So you won’t receive a deduction when you contribute, but you can pull out the entire fund completely tax-free starting at age 59½. Think about it like this—if your investments grow at a rate of 5 percent and you won’t need your retirement fund for 25-30 years, that’s going to net you a huge bundle of tax-free income.

Control Your Income: If you’re a freelancer or small business owner, you may have more control over your tax bill than you think. If you anticipate having more taxable income in 2015 than in 2016, and therefore paying taxes at a higher rate, consider holding off until January 1 to bill your clients instead of the end of December. That will allow you to pay less taxes on the same amount of income. On the flip side, you can also prepay many expenses at the end of December, such as January’s rent, to lower your 2015 taxable income.

Don’t Wait to Reach Out to Your Accountant: Don’t wait until tax season to speak to your accountant (or to find an accountant). The sooner you reach out with any questions you may have, the more likely it is that nothing will slip through the cracks. Reaching out before the end of the year is critical to maximizing your deductions and tax credits. If you don’t have an accountant yet, then now is the time to hire one.

Daniel Magence, CPA, Esq. is a principal at Pristine CPA Solutions, LLC (www.pristinecpa.com). Pristine CPA Solutions offers tax and accounting services to individuals and businesses of all sizes, whether it’s tax returns, bookkeeping, payroll services or personal income budgeting. He can be reached at [email protected] or (201)326-6908 if you have any questions or comments, or are interested in using Pristine CPA’s services. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

By Daniel Magence, CPA, Esq.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles