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RFG Advisor, Weston Manley|"2017 Tax Tips"

by: Weston Manley
published: April, 10th 2017


Originally posted February 13, 2017

2017 Tax Tips

Author: Weston Manley, CFA, CPA, CFP®

While the 2016 tax preparation season is getting underway, it’s important not to lose sight of 2017 planning opportunities. Consider how the following items may impact your particular situation and help you potentially reduce taxes in 2017.    

  • Tax Reform.  Both our president and the GOP have called for drastic changes to our tax system. Be sure your financial professional is staying in tune should reform come to fruition this year. 
  • Retirement account contributions.  Don’t forget you have until your tax return filing date to contribute to a Roth or Traditional IRA (April 18, 2017 or prior). Hint – If you are writing a physical check, be sure to put “2016 contribution” in the memo line as many custodians will count it towards 2017 otherwise. 
  • Employer and Individual Retirement Account Contribution Limits for 2017.  All in all, no real changes from 2016. If you are 49 or younger, you can defer up to $18,000 to your 401(k) or 403(b) plan. For Roth and Traditional IRAs (subject to phase-out limitations) the contribution limit is $5,500.   If you are 50 or over, you are allowed a catch-up contribution which provides you the opportunity to defer an additional $6,000 to your 401(k) or 403(b) and $1,000 to your Roth or Traditional IRA. 
  • Education Funding.   529s are a great way to save for your children or grandchildren’s college expenses. The funds within the account grow tax-free and are distributed tax-free assuming they are for qualified education expenses.1 Additionally, depending on the state in which you reside, you may receive a deduction towards your state income taxes (Missouri does have this benefit).If your child currently attends or you are planning on them to attend a private elementary or secondary school, consider utilizing a Coverdell Savings account. 
  • Charitable Contributions.  If you have highly appreciated securities, consider donating in lieu of cash as you receive not only the charitable deduction for the fair market value of the securities, but you also avoid any capital gains taxes that would otherwise be incurred on the sale.For those over 70.5, consider donating directly from your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) as this counts towards your Requirement Minimum Distribution and avoids tax liability. 
  • Location, location, location.  To help minimize taxes associated with your investment accounts, be sure to locate your assets based on their tax efficiency. Tax-advantaged accounts (IRA, 401(k)/403(b)) should hold tax inefficient assets such as taxable bonds, REITs, actively managed funds, etc. Taxable accounts should hold tax-efficient assets such as equities.   The first asset in a taxable account should be your international securities as you receive a foreign tax credit or deduction based on income the security or fund produces. This can be used to offset your tax liability or reduce your taxable income.   Be sure to speak with your advisor if you are unsure if an asset location strategy is in place. 
  • Tax-efficient withdrawal strategies.  While every situation is unique, if you are retired and haven’t started taking Social Security and you’re not RMD age (70.5), there is a chance your taxable income is quite low. If this is the case, Roth Conversions can be a great way to move money out of your Traditional IRA and into a Roth. The effect is to reduce your Required Minimum Distributions as Roth accounts do not have mandatory distribution requirements and provide an additional bucket to pull income from later in life.2 
  • Gifting and Estate plan review.  While your potential estate may not be at a level that taxes come into play (estate tax exemption is $5,450,000 per person), it’s important to review your estate planning documents to ensure they still align with your current wishes. Also, don’t forget that you may gift up to $14,000 per recipient per year without eating into your estate tax exemption. 

 

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individual tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

Footnotes

  1. Tax treatment at the state level may vary.
  2. Traditional IRA account owners should consider the tax ramifications, age, and income resections in regards to executing a conversion form a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The converted amount is generally subject to income taxation.

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