It’s Tax Time! 5 Tips to Beat the Tax Game and Keep More in Your Pocket

It’s Tax Time! 5 Tips to Beat the Tax Game and Keep More in Your Pocket

January 25, 2023

It’s nearing that time of year again! Yes, tax season is upon us—with the invitation to get our financial ducks in a row. One of the best ways to reduce the burden of taxes is to employ an ongoing tax strategy throughout the year. To increase your chances of success, it is important to understand the different rules and regulations of the tax system. Today we’ll take a look at a few tax planning strategies worth considering as we wrap up 2022 and plan for 2023 and beyond. 

Build a Tax-Efficient Retirement Plan

When working with your financial advisor, retirement planning will often be a key point of conversation. By stress-testing your plan and avoiding the biggest financial mistakes, you can quickly see if your current retirement accounts, savings rates, and other assets will be adequate for the retirement lifestyle you desire.

A direct way to reduce your tax bill is to contribute money into tax-deferred savings accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA. But, in order to maximize your savings, you will need to determine both your current cash flow needs and your ideal retirement income. A proper financial plan will look at both factors and determine the best way to use your tax-deferred savings accounts to save you money both now and in the future. 

For example, a $50,000 withdrawal from a Roth IRA will have a wildly different tax impact than that same distribution from a traditional IRA. Creating a tax plan can help you strategically withdraw from your various retirement accounts and reduce your tax liability. 

Contribute to Your Health Savings Account

Health savings accounts (HSAs) offer triple the tax savings. This may sound too good to be true, but HSAs have no federal income tax, no state or local taxes, and no Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes. If you are eligible for an HSA, your money will be tax-deferred and can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for medical expenses. 

Because HSA account balances roll over from year to year, by contributing to the limit each year, you can build up quite a nest egg to cover either current medical expenses or future medical expenses in retirement. Think of it as a Roth IRA for medical expenses. 

As of 2023, HSA owners now have higher contribution limits to help them do just that. If you have individual coverage, you can contribute $3,850; for family coverage, the limit is $7,750. There is also an extra catch-up contribution of $1,000 available for those age 55 and older. If you can’t max out the yearly limit, attempt to contribute enough to cover your deductible and take advantage of your employer match, if available. 

Use a Roth IRA to Transfer Wealth

Roth IRAs are an attractive savings vehicle for many reasons, including no required minimum distributions (RMDs), tax-free withdrawals after age 59½, and the ability to pass wealth tax-free to your heirs. Although Roth IRAs don’t have RMDs, other accounts like a traditional IRA might. This will force you to increase your income and could bump you up to a higher Medicare range, which can add $100 to $150 each month in premiums.

You probably know the effects taxation can have on your assets and the inheritance you hope to pass on to future generations. For example, if you passed down a traditional IRA, non-spouse beneficiaries used to be able to stretch the distributions from that account over the beneficiary’s life, but now they have to liquidate the account within 10 years of inheriting it (with some exceptions), thanks to the new SECURE Act. This significantly decreases the value of the account due to the amount of taxes paid in a short time. But, if you pass down a Roth IRA instead, there is no income tax due on the distributions, as long as the account is held for more than five years and the account holder is 59½ or older. 

If you have traditional IRAs already or earn too much to qualify for a Roth IRA, consider a Roth conversion to remedy the tax loss. The basic process to convert your IRA is to withdraw the amount you’d like to invest in a Roth, pay the tax owed on the distribution, then reinvest it into a Roth account. Be sure to work with a professional to determine the best time to do this so you don’t push yourself into a higher tax bracket or are forced to use funds from the account to pay the extra taxes on the distribution. Also, stay on top of potential tax changes that could limit the availability of this option for you.

Deduct Eligible Charitable Contributions

Annual gifts to qualified charitable organizations may be deemed an eligible itemized deduction. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, fewer taxpayers itemize deductions due to the doubling of the standard deduction. Regardless, charitable giving is still a useful tax-minimization strategy.

In order to benefit from charitable giving, you’ll have to plan ahead. With the new higher standard deduction, you’ll need to make sure your total deductions for the year, giving included, exceed $12,950 for an individual filer and $25,900 for those married filing jointly. If your deductions fall below this amount, consider bunching your giving or doing several years’ worth of giving in one year.

You may also want to look into using a donor-advised fund to combine all charitable contributions in a year and then distribute the funds to various charities over several years. With this strategy, you may be able to itemize deductions in one year and take the standard deduction in the following years so you can achieve a tax benefit that you may not have received otherwise.

Review Your Previous Tax Returns

You can learn a lot from the past. Look at your previous tax returns with a professional to search for deductions or credits you may have missed, opportunities to lower taxable income, and plan for the next tax season. Take these factors into consideration when making a tax plan for the future:

  • Review notable tax law changes for 2022 that may affect you
  • Review your capital gains and losses
  • Review your retirement savings options
  • Consider Roth IRA conversions
  • Consider additional year-end tax strategies
  • Understand potential tax law proposals

Team Up With a Trusted Professional

Tax planning can be a smart way to save money, both in the short and long term. However, it can be complex and overwhelming to figure out which strategies are best for your individual situation. That’s why it’s helpful to work with a professional who can provide you with personalized advice and insights to make the process feel easy.

At the Center for Wealth Management, our team has years of experience in financial and tax planning. We understand exactly how to implement effective tax-minimization strategies that can save you money. If you have questions about these strategies, we would love to help. Reach out to schedule a free introductory meeting online, call us at (248) 220-4321, or email me at justin@cwmfinancial.net. We look forward to helping you reach your financial goals!

About Justin

Justin Williamson is a senior partner and co-owner of Center for Wealth Management, an independent, fee-based wealth management company in Troy, Michigan. Justin has been serving clients in the financial services industry since 2001. He spends his days helping his clients achieve their financial goals and make the best decisions for their families so they can spend time on what they love and experience financial peace of mind. Justin is known for his dedication, integrity, personal touch, and ability to simplify complex issues. Justin specializes in serving engineers and other professionals who are close to retirement or recently retired and helping them maximize their benefits and create a retirement plan they can rely on. He is a seasoned public speaker and presents at numerous corporate events each year on retirement planning, Medicare, Social Security, and other financial topics. Justin has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration majoring in Personal Financial Planning from Central Michigan University and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner. 

Outside of work, Justin enjoys spending time with his family. He lost his wife of 18 years, Heather, to brain cancer in 2020. He and his son, Carter, and twin daughters, Jaden and Kelsey, work to honor her and make her proud each day. Outside of work, you can usually find him coaching baseball, softball, and basketball, and spending time at their family cabin at Higgins Lake. Learn more about Justin by connecting with him on LinkedIn.