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Year-End Planning Checklist

2020 has been a strange year for all of us, and although some financial planning deadlines have been modified due to the CARES Act, most 12/31 deadlines remain in place.  Below are items we are considering as we wrap up the year with our clients.  Should you have questions about whether or how any of the items below apply to you, please reach out to us as we will be happy to assist.  

 2020 Year-End Planning Items with 12/31 Deadline

  1. Maxing out 401(k) contributions:  Employees can contribute up to $19,500 (plus $6,500 extra for those over 50), into their 401(k)s for 2020.   If you have not yet contributed the maximum amount and your cash flow allows, consider increasing your contributions now to reach the maximum contribution amount prior to year end.  
  1. 401(k) Matching:  If your company offers a 401(k) match, it makes sense to take advantage of the full match opportunity every year.  If you have not received the full match for 2020, let us review your company’s 401(k) plan rules to determine if you can contribute enough to receive the full 2020 match before year end.  
  1. Charitable Giving for 2020:  There are some additional charitable deductions this year as part of the CARES Act.  There is a $300 deduction for taxpayers who don’t itemize, and for clients interested in large donations, taxpayers can deduct up to 100% of their adjusted gross income (up from 60%) for cash donations made to public charities. For clients with taxable accounts, we frequently recommend donating appreciated securities instead of cash via a donor-advised fund (DAF).  This strategy works well when a taxpayer has highly appreciated securities in taxable accounts, and/or in a year when income is higher allowing a client to benefit from a larger charitable deduction.  
  1. Gifting:  The annual gift exclusion amount for 2020 is $15,000 per taxpayer to each recipient.  (Married couples can give $30k.)  Make your annual gifts prior to 12/31 if you haven’t already!  
  1. Tax Loss/Gain Harvesting:  At Warren Street, we employ a continuous monitoring of client accounts for tax loss harvesting opportunities.  Similarly, if a client is experiencing a particularly low tax year, it may be the right time to strategically harvest capital gains.  
  1. Roth Conversions:  Although market downturns are not fun, they can certainly provide an opportunity for strategic Roth Conversions.  This is an annual planning item that we analyze for every Warren Street client.  
  1. LLC / Entity Formation:  If you are in the process of business entity formation for 2020, you may need to have your documents signed and filed prior to the end of the calendar year.  

If you have any questions about the above checklist or any other year-end planning questions, please feel free to reach out to your trusted wealth advisor. We are here to help!

Emily Balmages, CFP®, CRTP

Wealth Advisor, Warren Street Wealth Advisors

Investment Advisor Representative, Warren Street Wealth Advisors, LLC., a Registered Investment Advisor

The information presented here represents opinions and is not meant as personal or actionable advice to any individual, corporation, or other entity. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Nothing in this document is a solicitation to buy or sell any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. Warren Street Wealth Advisors may own securities referenced in this document. Due to the static nature of content, securities held may change over time and current trades may be contrary to outdated publications. Form ADV available upon request 714-876-6200.

Your Year-End Financial Checklist

Check ListSeven aspects of your financial life to review as the year draws to a close.

Provided by: Warren Street Wealth Advisors

                       

The end of a year makes us think about last-minute things we need to address and good habits we want to start keeping. To that end, here are seven aspects of your financial life to think about as this year leads into the next…

 

Your investments. Review your approach to investing and make sure it suits your objectives. Look over your portfolio positions and revisit your asset allocation.

 

Your retirement planning strategy. Does it seem as practical as it did a few years ago? Are you able to max out contributions to IRAs and workplace retirement plans like 401(k)s? Is it time to make catch-up contributions? Finally, consider Roth IRA conversion scenarios, and whether the potential tax-free retirement distributions tomorrow seem worth the taxes you may incur today. Be sure to take your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from your traditional IRA(s) by December 31. If you don’t, the IRS will assess a penalty of 50% of the RMD amount on top of the taxes you will already pay on that income. (While you can postpone your very first IRA RMD until April 1, 2015, that forces you into taking two RMDs next year, both taxable events.)1

   

Your tax situation. How many potential credits and/or deductions can you and your accountant find before the year ends? Have your CPA craft a year-end projection including Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The rise in the top marginal tax bracket for 2014 made fewer high-earning executives and business owners subject to the AMT, as their ordinary income tax liabilities grew. That calls for a fresh look at accelerated depreciation, R&D credits, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, incentive stock options and certain types of tax-advantaged investments.2

 

Review any sales of appreciated property and both realized and unrealized losses and gains. Take a look back at last year’s loss carry-forwards. If you’ve sold securities, gather up cost-basis information. Look for any transactions that could potentially enhance your circumstances.

 

Your charitable gifting goals. Plan charitable contributions or contributions to education accounts, and make any desired cash gifts to family members. The annual federal gift tax exclusion is $14,000 per individual for 2014 and 2015, meaning a taxpayer can gift as much as $14,000 to as many individuals as you like in each year without tax consequences. A married couple can gift up to $28,000 tax-free to as many individuals as they prefer. The gifts do count against the lifetime estate tax exemption amount, which climbs to $5.43 million per individual and $10.86 per married couple for 2015.3

 

You could also gift appreciated stocks to a charity. If you have owned them for more than a year, you can deduct 100% of their fair market value and legally avoid capital gains tax you would normally incur from selling them.4

 

Besides outright gifts, you can plan other financial moves on behalf of your family – you can create and fund trusts, for example. The end of the year is a good time to review any trusts you have in place.

 

Your life insurance coverage. Are your policies and beneficiaries up-to-date? Review premium costs, beneficiaries, and any and all life events that may have altered your coverage needs.

 

Speaking of life events…did you happen to get married or divorced in 2014? Did you move or change jobs? Buy a home or business? Did you lose a family member, or see a severe illness or ailment affect a loved one? Did you reach the point at which Mom or Dad needed assisted living? Was there a new addition to your family this year? Did you receive an inheritance or a gift? All of these circumstances can have a financial impact on your life, and even the way you invest and plan for retirement and wind down your career or business. They are worth discussing with the financial or tax professional you know and trust.

 

Lastly, did you reach any of these financially important ages in 2014? If so, act accordingly.

 

Did you turn 70½ this year? If so, you must now take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from your IRA(s).

Did you turn 62 this year? If so, you’re now eligible to apply for Social Security benefits.

Did you turn 59½ this year? If so, you may take IRA distributions without a 10% penalty.

Did you turn 55 this year? If so, and you retired during this year, you may now take distributions from your 401(k) account without penalty.

Did you turn 50 this year? If so, “catch-up” contributions may now be made to IRAs (and certain qualified retirement plans).1,5,6

 

The end of the year is a key time to review your financial well-being. If you feel you need to address any of the items above, please feel free to give me a call.

 

Warren Street Wealth Advisors

190 S. Glassell Streeet, Suite 209

Orange, CA 92866

Direct: 714-876-6200

Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.
Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered
Investment Advisor. Warren Street and Cambridge are not affiliated.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

   

Citations.

1 – irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/RMD-Comparison-Chart-%28IRAs-vs.-Defined-Contribution-Plans%29 [4/30/14]

2 – tinyurl.com/o7wqk7z [3/27/14]

3 – forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2014/10/30/irs-announces-2015-estate-and-gift-tax-limits/ [10/30/14]

4 – philanthropy.com/article/Donors-Often-Overlook-Benefits/148561/ [8/29/14]

5 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/getting-retirement-money-early-without-30168.html [12/2/14]

6 – turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Planning-and-Checklists/Tax-Tips-After-January-1–2015/INF12070.html [12/2/14]