Seasonal Smarts: Leverage the Holidays for Tax and Finance Planning
The holiday season, with its spirit of giving and reflection, is the perfect backdrop for some savvy financial planning. As the year winds down, taking a moment away from the festivities to focus on your taxes and finances can lead to substantial savings and a stronger financial position in the new year. Here’s how you can leverage the holiday season for smarter tax and finance planning.
Maximize Your Deductions
Charitable giving is synonymous with the holiday spirit, and it’s also a fantastic way to increase your tax deductions. Donating to a qualified charity before the year’s end can reduce your taxable income. Don’t forget to keep receipts and records of all donations.
If possible, defer bonuses or other income until after December 31st. This could lower your taxable income for the current year, potentially placing you in a lower tax bracket and decreasing your tax liability.
Spend Your FSA
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are use-it-or-lose-it. Make sure to spend these pre-tax dollars on qualifying medical expenses before time runs out. Schedule last-minute doctor’s visits or stock up on eligible supplies.
Check your investment portfolio for any underperforming stocks. Selling them can offset capital gains you’ve realized during the year, balancing out your tax implications through what’s known as tax-loss harvesting.
Plan for Retirement Contributions
Increase your retirement contributions if you haven’t already hit the yearly limit. Contributions to 401(k)s and traditional IRAs can be tax-deductible, lowering your taxable income.
Prepare for the Upcoming Tax Season
Use the downtime during the holidays to get organized for the tax season. Gather and file receipts, review your records, and start outlining your tax return early to avoid the rush in April.
Reassess Your Withholdings
If you had a major life change this year, such as marriage or a new child, adjust your withholding accordingly to avoid a surprise tax bill or suboptimal refund.
Invest in Energy Efficiency
If you’ve been considering home improvements, look into energy-efficient upgrades. Certain improvements may qualify for tax credits and can reduce your utility bills, too.
While the holidays are a time to relax and enjoy the company of loved ones, setting aside a little time for tax and financial planning can pay off. With these strategies, you can enter the new year with peace of mind and perhaps a little extra in your pocket.
Here’s to your financial health this holiday season,
The Figure Financial Team