As 2011 draws to a close just about everybody has their minds on vacation, travel, and gift-buying, so we just wanted to take a moment to remind all of our readers to take advantage of your tax deductions and allowances before the year is over. These may include sending a check to your favorite charity, giving a generous cash gift to children or grandchildren, or selling securities that have lost money this year.
This isn’t all you can do to wrap up your 2011 tax package. This article in the New York Times explains that the next two years of tax policy are likely to be a bit rocky, and that “beyond the usual recommendations… you should use this year to get your affairs in order for what promises to be an uncertain two years of tax policy.”
If you’re not sure which deductions might apply to you, our office (along with the article mentioned above) has come up with a list of tax breaks to consider:
1. Charitable gifts to most non-profit organizations are tax deductible; and while you can’t deduct any time you spend volunteering, you can deduct any out-of-pocket expenses incurred while volunteering.
2. You can give monetary gifts of up to $13,000 to as many individuals as you would like without incurring the gift tax.
3. The 30% energy tax credits of 2010 expired at the end of last year, but new (albeit lower) credits were passed for 2011. Check the energy star website for information if you made any energy-efficient improvements to your home this year.
4. If you are over 70½ you are currently allowed “to directly donate the required minimum withdrawal from [your] retirement account to charity.” (This is something that may disappear with new tax laws in 2012.)
5. Teachers are allowed to deduct up to $250 spent on classroom expenses.
6. A significant tax loophole set to end this year is one that “allows people whose marginal tax bracket is under 15 percent to pay no capital gains tax when selling securities held for more than a year.”
These are only a few of the tax strategies you may want to consider before the end of the year. For more tax-saving strategies please talk to your financial advisor.