Tax Planning

Year-End Tax Planning Strategies for 2021

The wealth management team at Schultz Financial Group conducts annual year-end tax planning throughout the fourth quarter. Planning was particularly challenging this year due to the uncertainty surrounding pending legislation. On December 16th, it was announced that the Build Back Better bill would be debated further in January but there would be no changes in tax law in 2021.

The time-tested year-end approach of deferring income and accelerating deductions to minimize the annual tax liability will continue to produce the best results for most taxpayers this year. Bunching itemized deductions, such as charitable donations, is another strategy that will help most taxpayers.

Below are a few year-end tax planning strategies to consider. Before implementing any year-end tax planning strategy, we recommend you discuss your specific situation with your tax advisor. 

Year-End Tax Planning Strategies for 2021

1. Long-term Capital Gains

Long-term capital gain from sales of assets held for over one year is taxed at 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on the taxpayer’s taxable income. If you hold long-term capital assets that have appreciated in value, consider selling enough of them to recognize long-term capital gains that will utilize the 0% rate. The 0% rate generally applies to net long-term capital gain to the extent that, when added to regular taxable income, it is not more than the maximum zero rate amount ($80,800 for a married couple in 2021). For example, if $5,000 of long-term capital gains you took earlier this year qualifies for the 0% long-term capital gains rate, then try not to sell assets yielding a capital loss before year-end, because the first $5,000 of those losses will offset $5,000 of capital gain that is already tax-free.

2. Postpone Income

Postpone income until 2022 and accelerate deductions into 2021 if doing so will enable you to claim larger deductions, credits, and other tax breaks for 2021 that are phased out over varying levels of adjusted gross income (AGI). This includes deductible IRA contributions, child tax credits, higher education tax credits, and deductions for student loan interest. Postponing income is also desirable for taxpayers who anticipate being in a lower tax bracket next year.

3. Roth Conversion

Consider converting a portion of your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The amount of the Roth conversion will be treated as taxable income for the current year but may be a desirable strategy for those that anticipate being in a higher tax bracket next year.

4. Bunching Deductions

Consider bunching your deductions. Many taxpayers no longer itemize their deductions due to the high standard deduction ($25,100 for joint filers and $12,550 for single filers). By bunching deductions into the current year, a taxpayer may be able to itemize their deductions and lower their overall tax liability. Charitable contributions and discretionary medical expenses are examples of deductions that may be easily bunched into a single tax year.

5. Make a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD)

If you are over age 70½, consider making a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). A QCD is a cash donation from your IRA to a charity that will satisfy your Required Minimum Distribution, up to $100,000, and will not be taxable income to you.

6. Use the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion

Use the annual gift tax exclusion amount of $15,000. Unused annual gift tax exclusion amounts do not carry over into future years. Gifting up to the annual gift tax exclusion amount annually can be an effective way to transfer assets to other family members.

Current laws, potential changes, and – most importantly – the client’s best interest should all be considered before implementing any tax-planning strategy. At SFG, we emphasize that tax planning should be a coordinated effort between the client and the client’s wealth and tax advisors. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to further discuss any of the strategies mentioned above.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to address best practices for the 2021 tax year.

Alyssa Yocom is a Wealth Manager with Schultz Financial Group Inc.

Schultz Financial Group Inc. (SFG) is a wealth management firm located in Reno, NV. Our approach to wealth management is different from many other wealth managers, financial advisors, and financial planners. Our team of fee-only fiduciaries strives to help our clients build their wealth across four capitals: Financial Matters, Physical Well-being, Psychological Space, and Intellectual Engagement. We provide family office and wealth management services to clients located in Nevada, California, and other states. If you’d like more information, please check out our website or reach out to us via our contact page.

  • Schultz Financial Group, Inc. (“SFG”) which is a registered investment adviser, drafted this blog post for its website and for the use of its clients or potential clients. Any other distribution of this blog post is strictly prohibited. Registration as an investment adviser is not an endorsement by securities regulators and does not imply that SFG has attained a certain level of skill, training, or ability. While the content presented is believed to be factual and up to date, it is based on information obtained from a variety of sources. SFG believes this information is reliable, however, it has not necessarily been independently verified. SFG does not guarantee the complete accuracy of all data in this blog post, and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of SFG as of the date of publication and are subject to change. This blog post does not constitute personalized advice from SFG or its affiliated investment professionals, or a solicitation to execute specific securities transactions. SFG is not a law firm and does not intend for any content to be construed as legal advice. Readers should not use any of this content as the sole basis for any investment, financial planning, tax, legal or other decisions. Rather, SFG recommends that readers consult SFG and their other professional advisers (including their lawyers and accountants) and consider independent due diligence before implementing any of the options directly or indirectly referenced in this blog post. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss, and different investments and types of investments involve varying degrees of risk. There can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy, including those undertaken or recommended by SFG, will be profitable or equal any historical performance level. Any index performance data directly or indirectly referenced in this blog post is based on data from the respective copyright holders, trademark holders, or publication/distribution right owners of each index. The indexes do not reflect the deduction of transaction fees, custodial charges, or management fees, which would decrease historical performance results. Indexes are unmanaged, and investors cannot invest directly in an index. Additional information about SFG, including its Form ADV Part 2A describing its services, fees, and applicable conflicts of interest and Form CRS is available upon request and at https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/firm/summary/108724.

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