More Items for Your Year-End Financial Planning ListSheaff Briefs Editor
(Continued from “Some To-Do, Not-to-Do, & ‘It-Depends’ Items for Your Year-End List”)
There’s no lack of financial planning and investment “tweaks” to consider as the fall season comes to an end, financial planning practitioner Paul Coan reminds Sheaff Brock investors. And, while some tactics may not prove best given your individual situation, others might have the potential to enhance tax savings at year-end and moving into 2017.
As always, Coan cautions, it’s a good idea to speak with your CPA or other tax advisor before implementing any tax-related strategy. (This is particularly true if you are subject—or close to being subject—to Alternative Minimum Tax.)
1. DONATING TO CHARITY
Rather than donating cash, consider donating appreciated securities (low-basis stock holdings or tangible assets, for example). There is no capital gains tax to the donor, and when the charity sells the asset, no tax to them.
Contributing “complex assets” (restricted stock or S-corporation stock are two examples) involves many technical requirements. Do not attempt this type of transaction without benefit of legal and tax counsel.
2. USING UP FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNT DOLLARS FOR HEALTH CARE EXPENSES
If there are pretax dollars you’ve set aside in a flexible spending account (FSA) through your work, consider using that money to order new glasses or to schedule dental work or minor surgery before year-end. Chiropractic care, acupuncture, and LASIK eye surgery all qualify as FSA expenditures.
Not to do:
Don’t assume any particular medical expense is eligible. For example, cosmetic dental care and over-the-counter meds do not qualify. Check with your company’s benefits office before making a specific withdrawal request.
3. MAXIMIZE YOUR GIFT ALLOWANCE
Take advantage of the annual gift exclusion, which allows you to make estate planning gifts while you’re still here to see the gifts being enjoyed by your children and grandchildren. The exclusion amount remains at $14,000 for 2016, but you can give that amount to each of any number of individuals without triggering any gift tax. And married couples can give $28,000 per recipient.
When making annual exclusion gifts, don’t gift property for which the fair market value could be called into question. Be sure to provide copies of relevant documents regarding the transfers, such as appraisals, with your tax return.
While year-end is a time particularly well-suited for a “game plan review,” the most effective strategy involves a comprehensive financial plan that you work on with your advisors year-round. Paul Coan, CFP,® ChFC, CEA,® is certain to remind investors when he is the featured speaker at the December Knowledge Builder investor webinar—an investing educational series exclusively for Sheaff Brock clients.