2020 Year End Tax Planning Tips

As we approach the end of the weirdest year ever, nearly everyone wants 2020 to be O-V-E-R (unless you love birthdays, and your birthday is between now and December 31st).

The year-end countdown has begun, and soon it will be too late to make certain positive changes to your 2020 tax situation.  Several of these items, if addressed now, could make a big or small difference to your 2020 tax filing, AND add to your savings.

Several of these items, if addressed now, could make a big or small difference to your 2020 tax filing, AND add to your savings. Photo by Thirdman on Pexels.com

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Politics, Grief & Money

Is it just me or has the election season and political climate made it feel like someone died? In fact, in the case that someone actually has died in the past 8-12 months we have not even been able to grieve in a healthy way.

What a topic for a Friday! And why am I bringing it up? This topic could take far more than 2 minutes to cover (don’t worry, I’ll keep it short).

Unfortunately, people do pass away. I have experienced both tragic and sudden death in my family. Death is a terrible and sad topic, but certain aspects of death need to be addressed within the concept of money – as harsh as that sounds. Grief is part of the topic too.

Find someone to trust to walk alongside you in times of grief so that your money and financial life are the crutch you can lean on to get you through to the other side of grief and hard times.

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Tax Traps, Part 1

Talking taxes on a Friday is a lot easier than talking taxes on a Monday! Believe it or not, at this time of year it is smart to be talking taxes no matter what. Preparation and planning are the name of the game.*

The issue of higher FUTURE taxes is critical to clients of all income levels – especially those in higher tax brackets – and all ages. You will hear me repeatedly hammering home this “tax trap” issue – with the research and collaboration from my sources to back it up.

Here is some “good” news when it comes to taxes and tax strategies: the Roth IRARoth IRA conversion and Roth 401k are alive and well for now. The “good” part is that for nearly ALL reading this, you ARE eligible for both the Roth IRA conversion and the Roth 401k (if your company offers a Roth 401k) even if you are in the higher/highest income brackets or own a business! And these strategies can be employed NOW for 2020 and 2021.

The issue of higher FUTURE taxes is critical to clients of all income levels, especially those in higher tax brackets
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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Goals Gut Check

From the TGIF 2 Minutes Archives earlier this year PRE-coronavirus…

Earlier this year in February things were GOOD! The economy was cranking, unemployment was low, wages were up, and it was a somewhat perfect time of the year to set goals. Think: it was pre-tax filing time and after the holidays.

Fast forward to today… the world has changed. Our savings have been tapped in the pandemic — and new savings and other goals need to be reset! While the kids may now be going back to school (followed by maybe not??) using this precious time to set just a handful of goals can pay off toward achieving those goals.

silver and gold coins
Give yourself a “Goals Gut Check” with this precious time before things potentially go a little haywire.

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A Note on Gold

Gold is a fascinating asset and concept. From Egyptian Pharaohs to Sir Isaac Newton to the “Nixon Shock” in the 1970’s, gold has been part of the story. Oh, and by the way, its price has risen over 35% so far in 2020.

Over the years there have been reasons (and not) for an investor to buy gold. One of the “catches” is that gold can be an extremely volatile asset, depending on the global economic cycle, level of interest rates and expectations for inflation. Another catch is that there are multiple ways for an investor to buy gold. Among these ways is to purchase gold in its physical form and insure and store it (expensive) or to purchase gold jewelry or gold wristwatches (also expensive but much simpler). OR, gold can be purchased in a non-physical form through gold futures contracts or via an exchange traded fund, or ETF, like the super-widely held SPDR Gold Trust whose trade symbol is GLD. The GLD trades like a stock and may be the closest way to own gold without having actual possession of the gold bars or coins.

bullion gold gold bars golden
Gold as an investment is not always as glittery and beautiful as the pure form.

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Check Your Beneficiaries

Another quick note this week – but important!

Whatever, whoever you want to call them: Beneficiaries, “Bennys”, Heirs… make sure to check who is listed as Beneficiary or Beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, insurance policies, IRAs or in your Will (if you have a Will).*

Inevitably, time flies. Loved ones pass away or important loved ones, well, change. (Think: divorce, relationship changes). On the positive side, new beneficiaries, or heirs, are born or enter the picture! In the busy-ness of life, often the accuracy of beneficiaries goes unchecked.

angelic statue and sunset scenery
NO ONE enjoys talking about their death, but bottom line, after your death, it is too late to change beneficiaries.

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What Comes Next? – Part 1

In these times of knowing virtually NOTHING for sure… there are a handful of possible “What Comes Next” topics that can be covered:

  • What Comes Immediately Next with Coronavirus Closures & Re-openings?
  • What Comes Next in the World Markets?
  • What Comes Next in the US & World Economy?
  • What Comes Next Further Down the Line in General?
  • …When do we all get to go back to work, sports and Life?

hands with latex gloves holding a globe with a face mask
Let’s simply digest that fact for now: there will be immediate, serious change to the way we literally wake up, work, and conduct our lives. 

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Brexit, Impeachment, Coronavirus: Preparing for Exogenous Threats is Key to Minimizing Risk

Exogenous Threats. These types of threats or risk factors come from an external place and affect markets – unexpectedly. Already in 2020, only 38 days into the year, the US and global markets have been presented with at least three major exogenous threats:

  1. Brexit becoming abruptly final
  2. A US Impeachment trial
  3. A viral epidemic, the unnamed Coronavirus in China (and now spreading to other countries too)
  4. (Bonus 4th threat) US-China and US-World trade policy

trump_newspaper
Photo Credit: NBC News

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Tax Law Changes That Matter For You

As the year turned from 2019 to 2020, there stealthily rolled in several of the most sweeping reforms to retirement and tax legislation in a decade or so (outside of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA). The recent changes apply to IRA, 401k and other retirement savings accounts. If any of these apply to you then please read on:

  • Inherited IRA
  • Turning 70½ this or next year
  • Own a business with or proposing a 401k plan
  • Working for a small company and do not have access to a 401k plan
  • Need an early distribution for reasons of qualified birth or adoption

US Capitol
The SECURE Act is the most sweeping reform to retirement and tax legislation in a decade. As with most pieces of Congressional legislation there are positives and negatives.

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2020 Contribution and Gift Limits

A handful of updates for 2020 IRA & 401k contribution and gift limits:

  • For Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs the 2020 contribution maximum remains the SAME in 2020 as in 2019: $6,000 (plus $1,000 to total $7,000 for those age 50 and over).
  • REMEMBER!! IRA account contributions can be made all the way up until April 15th for the previous tax year.
  • That means that you have until April 15, 2020 to make an IRA contribution for 2019.

cash dollars hands money
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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