15 year-end planning tips
1. Sell winners in taxable accounts. If you expect your income to be higher next year, realize capital gains today at the lower rate. Your taxable income includes the gain, so factor that in when you make your decision.
2. Sell losers in taxable accounts. Losses offset gains that you have taken previously in the year; if you have more losses than gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 of losses against ordinary income. Be sure to avoid the “wash sale” rule, which precludes you from deducting a loss if you buy a “substantially identical” investment within 30 days.
3. Bunch itemized deductions. Many expenses can be deducted only if they exceed a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income (AGI). So try to bunch qualified expenditures for things such as legal advice, tax planning and travel into one year, so you exceed the threshold of 2 percent of AGI.
4. Give appreciated stock or fund shares to charity. If you itemize deductions, you’ll write off the current market value (not just what you paid for them) and escape taxes on the accumulated gains.
5. Use your gift tax exclusion. You can give up to $14,000 to as many people as you wish in 2015, free of gift or estate tax. If you combine gifts with a spouse, you can give up to $28,000 per beneficiary per year.
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