7 tax-smart strategies.
- Check your tax-advantaged retirement accounts to be sure you’re contributing the maximum allowed. While it’s true you’ll pay taxes on withdrawals from these accounts in retirement, maximizing contributions now reduces your current tax burden. See IRA and 401(k) tax rates, rules, and limits.
- Review your investment income to determine if it would be beneficial to sell some investments at a loss to reduce your income and tax bill. When choosing which investments to sell, keep the wash-sale rule in mind.
- Review both your modified adjusted gross income and your investment income to determine whether you’re subject to the increased Medicare tax. One of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act levies an additional 3.8% tax on certain individuals. Visit the IRS website for more information.
- Prepay where possible. If you have the means, prepaying property taxes, medical bills, or estimated state taxes can give you added deductions to further reduce your taxable income.
- Get a jump on tuition. Will you be facing a big college tuition bill this spring? If you can pay it before the end of the year, you might be able to ease the pain a bit with up to a $4,000 tax deduction. There are income limits ($80,000 for single filers/$160,000 for married couples filing jointly; not available if married filing separately), but if it works for you, it’s worth considering.
- Meet with your Financial Consultant to review your portfolio from the standpoint of tax-efficient investing.
- Donate to a charitable organization. If you make a charitable donation by December 31, 2016, you may be able to write it off on this year’s taxes. Making your donation through a Schwab Charitable™ donor-advised fund account is a simple, tax-smart way to ensure that your donations have the greatest impact while also reducing your tax bill.¹
Take advantage of an HSA.
If you have a health savings account (HSA) tied to your high-deductible health insurance plan, now’s the time to max it out. An HSA lets you make tax-deductible contributions that you can later withdraw tax-free for qualified medical expenses. HSA contribution limits for 2016 are $3,350 for singles and $6,750 for families, with a $1,000 catch-up contribution allowed for those age 55 and older. And if you’re lucky enough not to need the money immediately, you can save it for future use.
Use—don’t lose—the money in your flexible savings account (FSA).
Unlike an HSA, you generally have to use the money you put into an FSA during the calendar year—or lose it. While new rules allow an employer to let you carry over $500 or give you an extra two-and-a-half months to use the funds, employers are not required to do so. Either way, now’s the time to check the balance in your FSA and put those funds to work.
Take your required minimum distribution (RMD).
You won’t save on taxes, but you can prevent a hefty penalty. You must take RMDs from traditional IRAs and 401(k)s by December 31. The only exception is your first RMD, which you can delay until April 1 of the year following the one in which you turn 70½. This isn’t to be treated lightly: Miss the deadline and the penalty is 50% of the amount that should have been withdrawn.
Give your health insurance a checkup.
Make sure you have the most complete and cost-effective coverage available.
Make tax-free gifts.
If you can afford to be generous, Uncle Sam makes it even easier to give gifts to special people on your list. In 2016, you can give up to $14,000 each to any number of individuals with no gift tax or reporting requirements. And there’s no tax for the recipient.
Make sure you’ve got all the forms you need related to this year’s investments.*
- Form 5498
- Form 1099 Composite
- Schedule K-1
- Form 2439
Education Savings Account
- 5498 ESA
*These are the most basic forms and not a complete list.
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Clients of independent investment advisors: You may also contact your advisor or call Schwab Alliance at 800-515-2157.
1. A donor's ability to claim itemized deductions is subject to a variety of limitations, depending on the donor's specific tax situation. Consult your tax advisor for more information. Schwab Charitable is the name used for the combined programs and services of Schwab
Charitable Fund™ (the "Fund"), an independent nonprofit organization. Schwab Charitable Fund has entered into service agreements with certain affiliates of The Charles Schwab Corporation.
Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Schwab recommends consultation with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner or investment manager. Schwab does not provide legal or tax advice.
Data contained herein from third party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.