Even if your 2018 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little more wealth.
Do you practice tax-loss harvesting?
That is the art of taking capital losses (selling securities worth less than what you first paid for them) to offset your short-term capital gains.
If you fall into one of the upper tax brackets, you might want to consider this move, which directly lowers your taxable income.
In fact, you could even take it a step further.
Consider that up to $3,000 of capital losses in excess of capital gains can be deducted from ordinary income, and any remaining capital losses above that can be carried forward to offset capital gains in upcoming years.
When you live in a high-tax state, this is one way to defer tax.
Do you want to itemize deductions?
You may just want to take the standard deduction for 2018, which has ballooned to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for joint filers.
If you do think it might be better for you to itemize, now would be a good time to get the receipts and assorted paperwork together.
While many miscellaneous deductions have disappeared, some key deductions are still around: the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, now capped at $10,000; the mortgage interest deduction; the deduction for charitable contributions, which now has a higher limit of 60 percent of adjusted gross income; and the medical expense deduction.
Should you convert all or part of a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA?
You will be withdrawing money from that traditional IRA someday, and those withdrawals will equal taxable income.
Withdrawals from a Roth IRA you own are not taxed during your lifetime, assuming you follow the rules. Translation: tax savings tomorrow.
Before you go Roth, you do need to make sure you have the money to pay taxes on the conversion amount.
A Roth IRA conversion can no longer be recharacterized (reversed).
Can you take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit?
The AOTC allows individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less (and joint filers with MAGI of $160,000 or less) a chance to claim a credit of up to $2,500 for qualified college expenses. Phase-outs kick in above those MAGI levels.
See that you have withheld the right amount.
The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act lowered federal income tax rates and altered withholding tables. If you discover that you have withheld too little on your W-4 form so far in 2018, you may need to adjust your withholding before the year ends.