Your Taxes are Filed… Now What?

Unless you had to file for an extension on your 2017 income tax returns, you’re probably feeling pretty good about yourself that you were able to check “Tax Day” off of your to-do list last week. However, with the new tax law, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it’s important that you review your current tax planning strategies and develop a plan for the new road ahead. There are some advanced tax planning opportunities that you can take advantage of to help save you money now and in the future. Just about every taxpayer will be impacted by the changes in the new tax reform legislation. So, your taxes for 2017 are filed… but now what? Well, for starters you don’t want to wait to get organized. Start today and try to better prepare yourself for your upcoming 2018 income tax returns.

First, make sure that you’re familiar with and understand the changes to the tax brackets. There are still 7 Tax Brackets for taxpayers under the following filing status’: Individual Taxpayers, Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns and Surviving Spouses, Married Filing Separately, and Heads of Household. Essentially, each individual tax bracket is broken down by the ranges of your taxable income, along with the corresponding income tax rate or percentage of taxable income that is due to the IRS. Taxable income is the amount of income used to calculate how much tax an individual or company owes to the government in a given tax year. For the most part, the IRS considers just about every type of income taxable. It includes, but is not limited to: Wages, Salaries, Bonuses and Tips, as well as Investment Income and Unearned Income. One type of income that is nontaxable is when you receive a life insurance payment when someone dies.

Next, it’s important that you look to employ tax diversity in your retirement plan. When it comes to retirement, having accounts that receive varying tax treatment is a key strategy. Since different types of investments impact your taxes differently, you should work with a qualified professional to help determine exactly how much you should have in each tax “bucket” and to help minimize your overall tax burden in retirement. Also, make sure that you’re aware of potential tax traps that can exist on your retirement plans. The IRS has several loopholes and complications that make it easy for them to tax the retirement savings of people who aren’t paying close attention. There are several common mistakes that could force you to pay out a larger part of your nest egg to the government. From deadlines for your required minimum distributions, confusing laws surrounding your Social Security claiming strategies, to potential mistakes when converting a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, there are many ways in which your taxable income can be affected.

Finally, you will want to look into certain strategies that help lower your overall tax bill. Taxes are one of the biggest expenses facing retirees today. Therefore, an important aspect to your overall retirement strategy is utilizing certain investment options that won’t minimize your gains come tax time, or when it’s time to begin withdrawing/distributing from them. Depending on your individual situation, it might make the most sense for you to try and max out your retirement accounts. And, if there’s a charitable cause that you feel strongly about, then consider developing a charitable giving strategy centered around that cause. Or, why not look into the tax loss harvesting approach where you can help reduce your income tax liability from your investment losses. But, don’t forget about your estate tax planning strategy because when you pass, your estate will have to pay federal estate taxes if its net value is more than the exempt amount set by Congress at that time. Starting in 2018, the new law exempts about $11 million for individuals, and $22 million for couples. Keep in mind that the exact amount will ultimately be dependent on the inflation adjustment.

In the end, no matter what lies ahead for you in your life in retirement, make sure you have discussed specific tax strategies with your trusted financial professional. Handling taxes without a plan is like driving with a blindfold on. It doesn’t make sense if you can’t see where you’re going. Let us help you navigate through the confusion and take all your personal factors into account. Click to request your complimentary, no obligation financial review today! There may be serious implications on your financial health if your tax situation is not fully understood or properly planned for.