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October 21, 2022

End-of-Year Tax Planning for Individuals

As we approach the end of the year, it’s important to start thinking about ways to lower your tax bill for 2022. One of the first steps you can check off your list? Determine whether you’ll take the standard deduction or itemized deductions for the year. 

Because of the high standard deduction amounts for this year—$25,000 for joint filers, $12,950 for single filers and married couples filing separately, and $19,400 for heads of household—many taxpayers won’t itemize their deductions. Also, note that many itemized deductions have been reduced or eliminated under current law. 

Those filers that do itemize can deduct medical expenses exceeding: 

  • 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI)
  • State and local taxes up to $10,000
  • Charitable contributions
  • Mortgage interest on a restricted debt amount

Unless they exceed your standard deduction, however, these deductions won’t save you money on your taxes. 

Working around deduction restrictions

By applying a “bunching” strategy to either push or pull discretionary expenses and charitable contributions into a tax-advantageous year, some taxpayers may be able to work around deduction restrictions. For example: if you’ll have itemized deductions for this year but not next, consider making two years’ worth of charitable contributions at one time. 

Keep reading for more ideas on how to work around deduction restrictions. 

Postpone income until 2023

By postponing income until next year and accelerating deductions into this year, you can claim larger 2022 tax breaks that are phased out over various AGI levels. 

These include: 

  • Deductible IRA contributions
  • Child tax credits
  • Education tax credits
  • Student loan interest deductions

Postponing income may also appeal to taxpayers with changed financial circumstances who anticipate being in a lower tax bracket in 2023. That said, some individuals may find it beneficial to accelerate income into 2022, especially if they anticipate being in a higher tax bracket next year. 

Convert a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA

Eligible individuals may want to consider converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA by the end of the year—particularly those with IRA-invested stocks or mutual funds that have lost value. 

Note that this conversion will increase your income for the current year, potentially reducing tax breaks that would otherwise be subject to phaseout at higher AGI levels. 

Account for the NIIT

For high-income individuals, it’s important to consider the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) on certain unearned income—3.8% of the lesser of net investment income (NII), or excess of modified AGI (MAGI) over a threshold amount.

That threshold amount is: 

  • $250,000 for joint filers or surviving spouses
  • $125,00 for married individuals filing separately
  • $200,000 for others

Your desired approach to minimize or eliminate that 3.8% surtax will depend on your estimated NII and MAGI for the year. Note that NII does not include IRA (or most retirement plan) distributions. 

Defer bonuses

If you anticipate a bonus coming your way this year, it may work in your favor to speak to your employer about deferring it until early next 2023. 

Make qualified charitable contributions from a traditional IRA

Those who will be 70.5 years of age or older by the end of 2022 should consider making this year’s charitable donations through qualified contributions from a traditional IRA. This is especially advantageous for those who don’t itemize deductions. 

As these distributions are made directly from your IRA, the contribution amount is not included in your gross income or deductible on your tax return. 

Account for annual gift tax exclusions

Gifts of up to $16,000 made to each recipient can be sheltered by the annual gift tax exclusion if they are given before the end of the year. 

Need more ideas? Speak with a tax professional

These are just a few of the ways that you can save taxes this year. Contact us to work with a seasoned tax professional who can help you determine the best next steps for your situation.

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