ALBERT HERTER

‘EIGHT TAX STRATEGIES TO TAKE BEFORE 2010, ‘ from MINT.COM. Check out this site!!!

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 at 15:11

With only two weeks left in 2009, you might think that it’s time to throw

in the towel on your 2009 taxes. Not so fast! This is the prime time of year

to implement some smart tax deduction strategies. With minimal effort, you

can still have a huge impact on your 2009 tax return by decreasing your

realized income. If any of these strategies appeal to you, speak with a tax

adviser, pronto.

Strategy #1: Fund your Retirement:

You may still be able to add more contributions for your 401k in 2009.

Additionally, you will be able to make tax deductible contributions to a traditional IRA up until the 2009 tax filing deadline (April 15, 2010) for the 2009 tax year. The IRS maximum allowed 401k limit is $16,500 in both 2009 and 2010. For those 50 and over, the catch-up contribution brings you up to $22,000 both years. For IRA’s, the limit is set at $5,000, while the catch-up is $1,000 for both years. Check with your employer ASAP to see if it’s not too late to kick up your contributions.

Strategy #2: Hold Off on the Roth IRA Conversion:

Owners of traditional IRAs can convert all or a part of their accounts to a Roth IRA if their 2009 modified adjusted gross income is under $100,000.

Any amount converted is taxable income, but is thereafter eligible for the

potential tax-free distribution rules of Roth IRA’s. The big news is that

starting in 2010, the $100,000 income threshold is removed – anyone can do a conversion. For 2010 only, you also have the option to spread the income from conversion over the following two years (2011 and 2012). Many have been waiting for this opportunity.

Strategy #3: Sell Losing Investments (and Big Winners):

The S&P 500 index went from the low 900’s to a low of 666 (funny number,

right?) in March, back up to a 2009 high of 1,119. That’s one heck of a

volatile year. All in all, the market is up over 22% for the year. Depending

on when you’ve bought and sold, you might want to consider unloading big

winners to offset your losers, or big losers to offset your winners. First,

you must subtract your losses from any capital gains you’ve made. Next,

additional losses can offset up to $3,000 of your 2009 ordinary income.

Have larger net losses than $3,000? Losses above and beyond what you used to

offset your capital gains and ordinary income can be carried over into

future tax years. Before implementing investment loss strategy by selling

mutual funds, make sure that you won’t incur any penalty for holding shares

for too short of a period of time.

Strategy #4: Capital Gains Tax Cuts:

Under the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act (TIPRA) of 2005,

US taxpayers in the two lowest tax brackets (10% and 15%) will pay no

capital gains taxes on long-term investments sold in 2009 and 2010.

Long-term capital gains result from profit made via appreciation of a

security (stock, fund, etc.) held for more than one year.

Strategy #5: When you Donate to a 501(c)(3), Everyone Wins:

Tax deductions for charitable donations can be claimed for the year in which

the donation is made. Perhaps it’s time to rummage through your house to

find valuables you no longer need or want that others can gain value from.

You may obtain fair market value on these items. Or, simply open your

checkbook or donate cash.

Donations of $250 or more must come with a written receipt or letter from

the 501(c)(3). When submitting your donation, ask for and keep all of the

appropriate documentation and receipts associated with all donations so that

you are safe in the event of a possible future tax audit. If you are

donating goods, document a description of everything given.

Strategy #6: Prepay your January, 2010 Mortgage:

If you’re a homeowner, you may want to consider making your January mortgage

payment in December, which will give you one more month of interest to

deduct from your 2009 taxes. Check with your mortgage provider to see if an

early payment is possible. It may be a great way to offset extra income

windfalls in 2009.

Strategy #7: Get Healthy on your Medical Bills:

If you have have large and predictable medical and/or dental bills that need

to be paid, consider making all the payments before the year is over. The

IRS allows families to itemize and deduct medical and dental expenses that

exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income, so if you’re close to going over

that percentage it may be wise to pay the bills to be able to make the

deduction.

It won’t affect your 2009 taxes (since it was already deducted), but don’t

forget to use up the rest of your 2009 FSA funds if you are in danger of

losing them in the new year.

Strategy #8: Prepare for 2010:

Using Mint.com to classify all of your deductible expenses in 2010, can allow

you to tag anything as tax related. Download your transactions to a

spreadsheet and send it to your accountant. If you’re doing your own taxes,

this info will give you a big head start in using online tax software, such

as TurboTax, which offers federal

filing free. If you expect that you’re due a hefty refund, file asap, so

that you can get back your return and re-invest it. Also, speak with your

employer about your withholding taxes if you have found that you owe too

much taxes or are getting a large refund.

Using TurboTax’s TaxCaster can help you estimate your tax burden and see the impact of any last-minute deductions.

For more of GE Miller’s writing, visit personal finance blog

20somethingfinance.com.

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