Don’t Wait Until December: Year-End Tax Actions You Should Take Now
Unless you’ve been planning for 2021 taxes all year, it’s time to take actions that can reduce your IRS obligation.
We’ve talked before about the importance of planning for taxes year-round. If you haven’t been able to do that because 2021 has been another complicated year, it’s not too late. There are things you can still do in November and December that will have impact on this year’s taxes.
It may be that taxes are not as big an issue for you because the COVID pandemic reduced your household income or your business sales, so you assume you’ll pay less in taxes. If so, you’re not alone. The Fidelity Investments 2021 Financial Resolutions Study found that two-thirds of Americans experienced a financial setback in 2020, for a variety of reasons, and 38 percent predicted that they’d be in survival mode in 2021.
Whether you’ve just been hanging on for the last ten months or 2021 was a good year for you, taking actions now that will affect your financial obligation that will come due next April should be high on your to-do list. Here are some suggestions.
Take advantage of Section 179.
No one likes dealing with depreciation. If you purchase or finance qualifying equipment or software in 2021, you may not have to. Section 179 in the IRS code allows you to write off the entire purchase price for the current tax year, up to $1,050,000. Though larger businesses may benefit from it, this tax legislation was specifically designed to help small businesses invest in themselves.
You’ll complete IRS Form 4562 to take the Section 179 deduction.
This doesn’t mean that you can only take the deduction if you buy equipment that costs less than $1,050,000. But the benefits start to diminish when you spend more than $2,620,000 total. The IRS also requires that you begin using the equipment—used or new—in 2021 to take the deduction.
Questions about whether you can take this deduction? Contact us.
Inventory your inventory.
Now is a good time to take a close look at your inventory. Are there products that are doing well? You might buy more before the year ends so you can claim a business expense. On the other hand, is there inventory that hasn’t sold and is unlikely to? If you have items that have lost their value, they can have impact on the balance sheet and income statement. Best to write them off.
This involves some complex calculations and knowledge of accounting rules. We can help you sort this out.
Consider putting off some income.
Are you due a bonus? You might consider putting that off until next year if your company allows it. Of course, you don’t yet know what your income and expenses will be for 2022. But at least you’ll be able to start including that as income at the beginning of the year and you’ll have plenty of time to make plans to offset it.
If you’re a freelancer or independent contractor and you know that your income will far outweigh your expenses in 2021, you might wait until the end of December to send out some invoices. That way, they won’t be included in 2021 income.
Look for more deductions.
How well do you know the Schedule C and all of the business expenses you can claim? We can help you minimize your tax obligation.
It’s better to think about this now instead of during tax preparation, so you can assemble any documentation needed and have it handy. You already know about commonly-claimed deductions like hardware and software costs, internet and phone connections, and office rent and utilities. Are you considering your home office space, as long as it’s devoted to business use? Legal and professional fees? Bank fees and business interest? Advertising and promotions? Business insurance?
Then there are charitable contributions to qualifying organizations, which must be made by December 31, 2021, to be deductible for this tax year. Single filers who do not itemize can claim up to $300 in donations, while married couples filing jointly can take up to a $600 deduction. Individuals who do itemize can give up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income (AGI) and claim it on their tax returns. C Corporations are limited to cash donations equaling up to 25 percent of taxable income.
Put more money in your retirement accounts.
This, of course, benefits you in two ways. Your retirement will be better funded the more you contribute to your 401(k)s, IRAs. etc. You’ll also benefit from a tax break by maxing out your contributions.
When you bunch deductions, you claim as many deductions as you can in a given tax year so you can itemize. You take a standard deduction the next year, then continue to alternate between the two. This is often done with charitable donations that you make at the beginning and end of the year, but it can work with deductions like medical expenses and property taxes.
Use Our Services
You may have heard some of these suggestions before and either didn’t think they would help you or weren’t sure how to use then in your tax preparation. But your goal should be to pay as little tax as is legally possible. We can help you with this. If you want to have a conversation about any of the ideas mentioned here before the end of the year, contact us. We’ll also be available to consult with you and prepare your taxes next year. Let us know now if you’d like to do that so we can get you on the schedule.
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There’s still time to take actions that will affect your 2021 taxes. We can help you minimize this year’s tax obligation.
Now is a good time to scrutinize your inventory. Which items haven’t sold well? You could write them off on your 2021 taxes.
If you expect to pay a lot in income taxes this year, maybe you could defer some income until 2022. Ask us about this.
Do you need to buy expensive capital equipment? Take advantage of Section 179 and deduct it all in 2021 instead of depreciating.