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Year-End Tax Planning Starts Now: 8 Things To Do Now to Lower Your 2024 Taxes (Part 1)

December 29, 2023

I have practiced law for over 15 years, first working at a medium-sized firm in San Francisco handling civil litigation, and then moving into estate planning, small business and contract law since 2010. I value people, the planet, and prosperity that does not adversely affect the former.

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It might seem a bit early to think about your 2024 taxes, but as the year draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to take a closer look at your financial situation and make some strategic moves that can help you minimize your tax liability come April.

Year-end tax planning isn’t something you do at the last minute; it’s a series of thoughtful steps you can start taking right now. In this blog series, we’ll explain eight key actions you can take during this last quarter of the year to save money on your 2024 taxes.

Let’s get started.

1 | Contribute to Your HSA (Health Savings Account)

A Health Savings Account (HSA) can be a powerful tool for both managing your healthcare costs and reducing your taxable income. HSAs allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover future qualified medical expenses. Contributions to your HSA are tax-deductible, and the earnings grow tax-free. To make the most of this tax-advantaged account, consider maximizing your contributions to your HSA before the year ends.

For the 2024 tax year, you can contribute up to $3,650 if you have self-only health insurance coverage or $7,300 for family coverage. If you are 55 or older, you can also make an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution. By increasing your HSA contributions, you not only reduce your taxable income this year but also build a valuable fund for future healthcare expenses.

If your employer offers an HSA account they may make an annual contribution to the account. If you’re self-employed or don’t have access to an employer-sponsored HSA, you can set up your own through most financial institutions.

Even better, the money you contribute to your HSA never expires and can be used years into the future. Just keep in mind that if you’ve taken money out of your HSA this year to pay a medical expense, that withdrawal will be counted as income on this year’s income tax return. 

2 | Contribute to a 529 College Fund

If you have aspirations of sending your children or grandchildren to college, establishing or contributing to a 529 college savings plan is a strategic financial move. These plans offer a tax advantage, as contributions are tax-deductible on the state level. While contributions aren’t deductible on the federal level, any earnings in the account grow tax-free as long as they are used for qualified education expenses.

In 2024, you can contribute as much as you like to a 529 plan, but contributions above $16,000 per year ($32,000 for married couples filing jointly) may be subject to gift tax. Nevertheless, contributing now can help you leverage potential state tax deductions while investing in your loved ones’ future education.

Not sure your child or grandchild will attend college? Funds in a 529 account can also be used for vocational and trade school tuition and fees or elementary and high school tuition costs.

3 | Adjust Your Tax Withholdings

If you are an employee, form W-4 determines how much income tax is withheld from your paycheck each month. It’s essential to review and, if necessary, update your withholding information, especially if you’ve experienced significant life changes such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or changes in your income during the year.

Adjusting your tax withholdings can help you avoid overpaying taxes throughout the year, leaving you with more money in your pocket. On the other hand, failing to update your W-4 could result in underpaying your taxes, which means needing to make a tax payment instead of receiving a refund come tax season, as well as potential penalties. Consult with a tax professional or use the IRS’s online withholding calculator to determine the correct withholding for your specific circumstances.

If you work as a 1099-independent contractor or own a business, you should meet with your tax professional to determine if you need to make any changes to the structure of your business, or establish retirement accounts, before the end of the year. If you need help knowing what to bring to your tax professional, or how to ask the right questions, give us a call. I, Ruby will be more than happy to assist you.

4 | Schedule Medical Procedures Strategically

Medical expenses can add up quickly, and the tax code provides a deduction for qualified medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) for the 2024 tax year. To maximize your deduction, consider scheduling necessary medical procedures before the year ends.

While not every medical need can be planned ahead of time, if you know you’ll need or want an elective surgery, try to schedule it before December 31. Similarly, if you’ve met your out-of-pocket maximums for health or dental insurance, now is the time to get all members of your family in for any remaining check-ups or follow-up procedures.

If you don’t think they’ll meet the threshold for medical deductions this year but anticipate a large medical bill like a birth or surgery next year, consider delaying any unnecessary medical work until January to take advantage of the medical expenses deductions next year.

Be sure to keep detailed records of your medical expenses, including bills, receipts, and insurance statements, to support your deduction claims.

Looking Out for Your Family and Your Finances

Looking at your finances and seeing where you can save money on your taxes isn’t just about finishing the year off strong and getting organized for tax season. It’s about making strategic moves that position you for success now and help protect and support your loved ones in the future. 

To make sure your family is cared for no matter what the future holds, schedule a complimentary call by clicking the button below. I would be happy to talk with you about how to guide our clients to create a plan that protects their assets and their family for years to come.

And don’t forget to tune in for part two of our year-end tax planning series, where we’ll explore even more strategies to help you keep more of your money where it belongs – in your pocket. 

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