Monday, December 7, 2015

Year-End Tax Strategies

December is busy enough without having to worry about the tax deadlines looming just around the New Year corner, but you might want to consider taking the time to look over what you’ll be filing before January. There are a host of tax-related decisions that need to be made by December 31st or else they won’t be applicable to your 2015 tax returns when it comes time to file.

Take a look at some of these year-end tax strategies to see how to make the most out of your 2015 return:

Consider Deferring Income
If you’re self-employed and have had a particularly good year, it might make sense to defer some of that income until 2016 to reduce 2015’s tax burden. Just wait until late December to issue invoices instead of early in the month, ensuring you won’t receive payment (or have to pay taxes on that income) until next year. Similarly, if you’re getting a big year-end bonus, you may be able to ask your boss to delay that until after January so that you don’t take the tax hit on your income until 2016.

Pay Your Taxes Now
Believe it or not, you get a deduction on your taxes just for paying your taxes. This includes property taxes as well as estimated state taxes that can be deducted on a federal tax return. If you prepay your estimated taxes before April, you can deduct that tax payment in some situations.

Donate to Charity
Any charitable giving must be done by the end of the year to be claimed on your tax returns. This means you may need to plan ahead on any donations you’re making to ensure they’re done by New Year’s Day. But procrastinators rejoice: you can claim any donations made by credit card as late as 11:59 p.m. on December 31st. As long as your receipt shows processing before midnight, you can claim the donation in tax year 2015.

Sell Your Bad Investments
Referred to as “loss harvesting,” selling a bad investment to offset profits from a good investment can make a lot of sense. The IRS calculates capital gains on a net basis year to year, so if you have one investment that made $10,000, you can avoid paying taxes on the profit if you have $10,000 in losses elsewhere to zero it out. Considering capital gains taxes can be as high as 39.6% for top earners, selling underperformers can be a powerful way to keep more of your profits from good investments.

Take Your RMDs
If you’re 70.5 years or older, the government requires you to start drawing down your tax-sheltered retirement plans like an IRA via required minimum distributions (RMDs) each year. If you don’t withdraw this minimum amount, you may take a hefty penalty of as much as 50% on the sum you should have withdrawn. Make sure you consult your tax professional or consult the IRS website for more details on your specific RMD figure to prevent leaving money on the table. RMDs vary based on age and how much you have saved.

Bonus Tip
Is your company planning a holiday party this year? Head on over to the ExpressExtension blog to find out how you can write off the money you spend on a holiday party as an entertainment expense!

For more tax tips or any help in your e-filing process, feel free to contact the ExpressIRSForms support team, located in Rock Hill, South Carolina. We’re available by phone (704-839-2270) and live chat through our website Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. We also offer 24/7 assistance through email at

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