Table of Contents
- What’s the best way to borrow to make consumer purchases?
- What special deductions can I get if I’m self-employed?
- Can I ever save tax by filing a separate return instead of jointly with my spouse?
- Why should I participate in my employer’s cafeteria plan or FSA?
- What’s the best way to give to charity?
- I have a large capital gain this year. What should I do?
- What other tax-deferred investments should I consider?
- What tax-deferred investments are possible if I’m self-employed?
- How can I make tax-deferred investments?
- What can I do to defer income?
- Why should I defer income to a later year?
For tax years 2018 through 2025 interest on home equity loans is only deductible when the loan is used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan. Prior to 2018, many homeowners took out home equity loans. Unlike other consumer-related interest expenses (e.g., car loans and credit cards) interest on a home equity loan was deductible on your tax return.
You may be able to take an immediate Section 179 expense deduction of up to $1,080,000 for 2022 ($1,050,000 in 2021), for equipment purchased for use in your business, instead of writing it off over many years. There is a phaseout limit of $2,700,000 in 2022 ($2,620,000 in 2021). Additionally, self-employed individuals can deduct 100 percent of their health insurance premiums. You may also be able to establish a Keogh, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA plan and deduct your contributions (investments).
You sometimes may benefit from filing separately instead of jointly. Consider filing separately if you meet the following criteria:
- One spouse has large medical expenses, miscellaneous itemized deductions, or casualty losses.
- The spouses’ incomes are about equal.
Separate filing may benefit such couples because the adjusted gross income “floors” for taking the listed deductions will be computed separately.
Medical and dental expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income or AGI. If your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account, or cafeteria plan, these plans permit you to redirect a portion of your salary to pay these types of expenses with pretax dollars.
If you’re planning to make a charitable gift, it generally makes more sense to give appreciated long-term capital assets to the charity, instead of selling the assets and giving the charity the after-tax proceeds. Donating the assets instead of the cash avoids capital gains tax on the sale, and you can obtain a tax deduction for the full fair-market value of the property.
If you also have an investment on which you have an accumulated loss, it may be advantageous to sell it prior to year-end. Capital gains losses are deductible up to the amount of your capital gains plus $3,00 ($1,500 for married filing separately). If you are planning on selling an investment on which you have an accumulated gain, it may be best to wait until after the end of the year to defer payment of the taxes for another year (subject to estimated tax requirements).
For growth stocks you hold for the long term, you pay no tax on the appreciation until you sell them. No capital gains tax is imposed on appreciation at your death.
Interest on state or local bonds (“municipals”) is generally exempt from federal income tax and from tax by the issuing state or locality. For that reason, interest paid on such bonds is somewhat less than that paid on commercial bonds of comparable quality. However, for individuals in higher brackets, the interest from municipals will often be greater than from higher paying commercial bonds after reduction for taxes.
For high-income taxpayers, who live in high-income-tax states, investing in Treasury bills, bonds, and notes can pay off in tax savings. The interest on Treasuries is exempt from state and local income tax.
Consider setting up and contributing as much as possible to a retirement plan. These are allowed even for a sideline or moonlighting business. Several types of plans are available: an individual or self-employment 401(k) plan, a SEP (Simplified Employee Pension), and the SIMPLE IRA plan.
Through the use of tax-deferred retirement accounts you can invest some of the money you would have otherwise paid in taxes to increase the amount of your retirement fund. Many employers offer plans where you can elect to defer a portion of your salary and contribute it to a tax-deferred retirement account. For most companies, these are referred to as 401(k) plans. For many other employers, such as universities, a similar plan called a 403(b) is available.
Some employers match a portion of employee contributions to such plans. If this is available, you should structure your contributions to receive the maximum employer matching contribution.
If you are due a bonus at year-end, you may be able to defer receipt of these funds until January. This can defer the payment of taxes (other than the portion withheld) for another year. If you’re self-employed, defer sending invoices or bills to clients or customers until after the new year begins. Here, too, you can defer some of the tax, subject to estimated tax requirements.
You can achieve the same effect of short-term income deferral by accelerating deductions, for example, paying a state estimated tax installment in December instead of at the following January due date.
Most individuals are in a higher tax bracket in their working years than during retirement. Deferring income until retirement may result in paying taxes on that income at a lower rate. Deferral can also work in the short term if you expect to be in a lower bracket in the following year or if you can take advantage of lower long-term capital gains rates by holding an asset a little longer.
Tax Saving Strategies: A Helpful Checklist
Travel and Entertainment: Maximizing the Tax Benefits
Travel and Entertainment: Frequently Asked Questions
The “Nanny Tax” Rules: What To Do If You Have Household Employees
“Nanny Tax” Rules: Frequently Asked Questions
Higher Education Costs: How To Get The Best Tax Treatment
Tax Benefits of Higher Education: Frequently Asked Questions
Selling Your Home: How To Minimize the Tax On the Gain
The Deductibility of Points
Annuities: How They Work and When You Should Use Them
Annuities: Frequently Asked Questions
Retirement Assets: Frequently Asked Questions
Retirement Plan Distributions: When To Take Them
Retirement Plan Distributions: How To Take Them
Roth IRAs: How They Work and How To Use Them
Mutual Fund Taxation: How To Cut The Tax Bite
Mutual Funds: Frequently Asked Questions
Traditional vs Roth IRAs: Frequently Asked Questions
Recordkeeping: Frequently Asked Questions
Advanced Charity Techniques: Maximizing Your Deduction
Charitable Contributions of Property: Maximizing the Deduction
Charitable Contributions: How To Give Wisely
Charitable Contributions: Frequently Asked Questions
Charitable Deductions: Frequently Asked Questions