We at Paragon Financial Advisors are not accountants and urge you to verify any items we discuss with your tax professional to determine its implications in your particular situation. We also do not believe you should “let the tax tail wag the investment dog.” That is, your investing should not be dependent solely on tax considerations. However, tax consequences certainly should be considered when all other things are equal. Taxes can have a significant impact on your total economic well-being. It is in that spirit that we discuss the Congressional resolution (enacted at the last minute) to the fiscal cliff.
In our past blogs, we have discussed quite a few items pertaining to the resolution of the debt situation currently facing the US. We would encourage you to read those blogs as they lead to the suggestions we make here on ways to prepare for your future. Some of these suggestions are to avoid known items of tax increase and some are designed to position you for changes that may be forthcoming in an environment where Congress is seeking additional revenues. Consider the following:
- Utilize strategies to reduce taxable income, thereby avoiding higher tax brackets on ordinary income/capital gains/interest/ and the 3.8% health care tax.
- Maximize contributions to retirement plans, IRA’s, FSA’s, HSA’s, etc.
- Seek deferred compensation agreements with your employer if available.Maximize the use of tax deduction strategies (charitable contributions, mortgage interest, etc.)
- Consider Roth strategies (contributions, conversions, Roth 401(k)) as a way to hedge against future tax increases.
- Consider a Roth IRA conversion if below the income thresholds.
- Investigate Roth conversion options in 401(k) plans which have now been expanded to include all participants.
- Invest in municipal bonds to generate tax free income (in taxable investment accounts).
- Extremely favorable for those in higher tax brackets especially since municipal interest is currently free from income tax as well as the 3.8% health care surtax.
- For those over age 70 ½ who face required minimum distributions from IRA’s, make donations to qualifying charities from the RMD amount (up to $100,000 maximum in 2013) as a way to avoid the RMD from increasing your taxable income.
- Consider the sale of appreciated assets (or gifting assets to other family members in lower tax brackets) to take advantage lower capital gains rates (0% or 15%).
- Considering the low interest rate environment, do some of the estate planning techniques (such as a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust) make sense for you?
- Consider, if appropriate, some of the advanced wealth transfer strategies (grantor trusts, dynasty trusts, family limited partnerships, etc.) while these strategies are still available.