With the year coming to an end, you’ll likely see dozens of articles suggesting ways to reduce your taxes and improve your portfolio. If you’ve been engaged with our newsletter for a while, you know we favor making regular tweaks throughout the year to minimize taxes and maximize total return over the long-term. That said, we love a good tip or trick just as much as the next guy, so we’ve compiled a few of our favorites you can implement in December to help reduce your tax bill in 2019.
INCREASE YOUR RETIREMENT PLAN CONTRIBUTIONS
The maximum amount you can contribute to an employer retirement, such as 401(k), is $19,000 for 2019. If you are age 50 or older, you can take advantage of an additional “catch-up” contribution of $6,000. Likewise, you can contribute a maximum of $6,000 to an IRA with an added $1,000 if you are 50 or older. Generally, you have until December 31, 2019, to contribute to an employer retirement plan and until April 15, 2020, to contribute to an IRA.
If you are self-employed, you may want to consider establishing an individual 401(k). The plan must be established and partially funded before year-end and should be done under the guidance of a CPA.
USE HSA TO PLAN FOR FUTURE HEALTH CARE COSTS.
For those with a high deductible health insurance plan, you are eligible to contribute up to $3,500 and $7,000 for families in 2019 ($8,000 if you are age 55 and over) to a Health Savings Accounts. Similar to a 529 plan, contributions made to an HSA grow tax-free and withdrawals used to pay for qualified medical expenses are also tax-free.
FUND A 529 EDUCATION SAVINGS PLAN
Contributions made to a 529 plan grow tax-free and withdrawals made for qualified education expenses are also tax-free. You can give up to $15,000 per beneficiary each year ($30,000 from a married couple) without filing a gift tax return. With some restrictions, it is possible to give more with “superfunding” (5 years at one time.)
DONATE TO CHARITY USING APPRECIATED STOCK
If you itemize on your tax returns, giving away appreciated stock allows you to not only deduct the full market value of the donation but also avoid paying capital gains on that appreciation. If you make donations on a regular annual basis but do not qualify to itemize, you may consider putting several years of gifts in a donor-advised fund. This may allow you to itemize your deductions in the current year while maintaining control over the specific timing of your donations to qualified charities over time.