Now is the time to get started on your 2014 tax planning!
Take advantage of the unique opportunity that the beginning of the year brings for your tax planning! By looking back on the still-fresh prior events, you can look forward to determine what you can replicate or improve.
Individualize your plan
Your individual situation will dictate the tax-saving moves you should consider as you look back on 2013 and ahead to 2014. Please call us at 212-605-0276 for a review of the options that fit your circumstances. We’re ready to help you minimize your tax bill for 2013 and get a head start on smart tax planning for 2014.
Start with retirement plans
A good place to apply this tax strategy of looking back and looking forward is with your retirement plan contributions. An example of this is by making an after-year-end planning move by making a calendar-year 2013 contribution to your IRA until April 15, 2014. Any deductible contributions will reduce your 2013 tax bill.
Now let’s look ahead with this strategy by beginning to think about 2014 IRA contributions. By starting early you are able to set money aside for current contributions and to decide what mix of contributions offers the best tax advantages. The most that you can contribute to your IRA for 2013 and 2014 is $5,500 ($6,500 when you’re over age 50).
If you are a business owner, you can benefit from retirement plan tax savings too! It is not too late to set up a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan for last year. Business can make contributions for 2013 until the due date of your tax return, so you could have until October 15 of this year to save money on last year’s return. The maximum contribution to a SEP for 2013 is $51,000 ($52,000 for 2014).
Retirement plans play a large role in tax-saving strategies because contributions reduce your adjusted gross income (AGI). For 2014, AGI, or a modified version of AGI, will affect your eligibility for various tax and nontax benefits. You will want to manage your income to keep it within the range that’s most advantageous to you.
Manage your income
How do you manage your income? One way is by making sure that you can take deductions that reduce your gross income. An example is, if you started a business and you are expecting it will take time to show profits, understanding the hobby loss rules can save money, these rules affect the amount you can deduct.
You can claim losses in full and apply the excess against other income on your personal tax return, reducing your AGI as a self-employed business owner. When your activity is a hobby, for tax purposes you must claim the income but your deductions are limited.
To retain the tax advantages of business treatment, establish your profit-making intentions early. Set up a business plan, a bank account, and a recordkeeping system. For an additional tax deduction this year, set up your home office.
Net operating losses from an established business also present AGI planning opportunities. If your business expenses exceeded your business income in 2013, you have until you file your 2013 federal income tax return to decide whether to apply the loss to a prior year or carry it forward into 2014.
By carrying the loss back you can generate a refund, boosting current year cash flow. However, depending on the type of business, your expected 2014 income, and your tax bracket, it may make more sense to use the loss to offset your 2014 income.
Document your expenses
An additional way to preserve business tax deductions is to have a strategy for obtaining written documentation supporting your expenses. An automobile mileage log is a typical case in point. The rules for substantiating vehicle expenses require you to keep a record, generally one made at or near the time you incur the expense or use the vehicle for business purposes.
Other documentation to put in place now includes a written policy for taking advantage of new “repair regulations.” These rules let you currently deduct certain purchases of assets that might otherwise have to be capitalized.
One more reason to start managing your 2014 AGI early in the year is the net investment income tax. This 3.8% surtax generally applies when you have investment income, including, capital gains, interest, and dividends, and your AGI exceeds $200,000 ($250,000 when you’re married filing jointly).
Income from passive activities, such as businesses in which you own shares but do not “materially participate,” is also subject to the tax. Since material participation is typically measured on the basis of the time you spend working in the business during the year, a smart beginning-of-the-year tax strategy is to create a schedule for increasing your hours.
If you own more than one business and there’s simply not enough time to materially participate in all of them no matter how early you start, you may be able to “group” the different activities. Grouping lets you combine your hours to meet the material participation rules. If you grouped activities in a prior year, special circumstances may give you the opportunity to make changes in 2014.
Consider taxes in setting your 2014 investment strategy
As you investigate opportunities for managing your portfolio in 2014, remember to pause and plan for the effect of tax laws. Here are some important rules to consider.
Capital gain tax rates
For 2014, the tax rate you’ll pay on gains from sales of assets depends on your taxable income and how long you’ve owned the investment. Gains on assets owned a year or less are taxed at the same rate as your ordinary income.
The rate for qualified dividends and sales of most assets you own longer than a year can vary.
- The rate is 0% when you’re married filing a joint return and your income is $73,800 or less ($36,900 when you’re single).
- When your income is between $73,800 and $457,600 ($36,900 and $406,750 for single filers), the maximum rate is 15%.
- A 20% rate applies when your taxable income is more than $457,600 ($406,750 when your filing status is single).
- The 3.8% surtax applies to your income from capital gains, interest, and dividends when your adjusted gross income exceeds $250,000 ($200,000 when you’re filing single).
Analyze your options
Your overall financial goals should be complemented by planning strategies for tax-efficient investing. For example, purchasing stocks and other securities that offer long-term growth potential instead of current income from dividends can help reduce the amount of income subject to the net investment income tax. However, if you need cash flow from your investments, you might choose an alternative tax-saving strategy, such as adding tax-free municipal bonds to your portfolio. A mix of the two could be preferable if you’re subject to the alternative minimum tax.
Likewise, the same analysis applies to investment accounts. Let’s say you own bonds or other investments that generate taxable interest income. Holding these assets in a taxable account means that you will pay federal income tax based on your ordinary tax rate. Including them in tax-advantaged accounts such as IRAs might be a better idea because you could delay the tax bill until you begin making withdrawals.
We can help you create the best plan for 2014. So, please give us a call at (212)605-0276 to discuss the tax consequences of your investment decisions.
IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: To ensure compliance with Treasury Department regulations, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein