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PLAN AHEAD AND SAVE MONEY AT TAX TIME

Just about everyone who earns/creates income must pay taxes in the United States, but there are ways to minimize the amount of taxes we are required to pay.  Additionally, we do have some control over when we pay the taxes. Generally it is better to defer taxes whenever possible and keep the money in your account as long as possible. The months of November and December are the best months to review your taxable income and expenses and take action before year end. Below are some planning ways to reduce taxable income during the current year rather than future years.

BONUS
If you are fortunate enough to receive a bonus from your employer you will pay tax on these amounts during the year you receive the payment.  If you request that the bonus be paid in January rather than December, you will not be taxed on that amount until you file your tax return in April of the following year.

CAPITAL GAINS/LOSSES
If you are involved in stocks and bonds or other investments, you should review your account to determine if you have capital gains or losses to report this year.  If your net transactions year-to-date have resulted in capital gains, you should consult with your investment advisor and determine if you have book losses on securities that can be sold to off set the gains.

Remember, you can deduct net losses of up to $3,000 each year and any net losses in excess of $3,000 will be carried forward to next year. Conversely, if you have net losses in excess of  $3000, this may be an opportunity to sell some of those securities in which you have significant gains that can be used to reduce the loss carryover.  This way you can have use of the cash from the sale of securities and still not pay a tax on the gain. 

RETIREMENT PLANS
If you are participating in a retirement plan in which you make contributions you should review your plan to determine if you can make additional contributions before year end. Each dollar you contribute to a qualified plan will reduce your taxable income. Plans which may qualify are 401 (k), Profit Sharing, and IRA's as well as others. Check with your employer's benefits administrator.

DEDUCTIBLE EXPENSES
If you have expenses that can be paid this year, you may benefit from paying the invoice in December rather than waiting for next year. If you have incurred a medical bill for services performed or being performed, you can pay the bill in full and take the medical deduction this year rather than paying only part and deducting some this year and some next year. Paying the entire bill in one year may help you exceed the 7 1/2 percent of adjusted gross income needed to take the deduction.

Make your charitable contributions before year end and don't forget the clothing, books, appliances, etc you have given to Goodwill, Salvation Army and other charitable organizations.  If you have driven your vehicle for the benefit of a charitable organization there is a mileage allowance which you can deduct as a contribution.

You should review your taxable income and expenses and determine which year of reporting would give you the greatest tax benefit. Determine which income and expense items you are able to shift between years and then calculate the estimated taxes for both the current year and next year using these shiftable items.  Which ever year gives you the smaller tax liability is the year you should report these items.  After making your decision, make certain that you do collect the revenue or pay the expenses in the year you are reporting them. These practices are perfectly legal as they fall in the category of "Tax Planning" not "Tax Evasion".


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