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Annual Financial To-Do List

| Economic Update, Retirement, Tax, Work to Wealth

Our featured article of the month, Annual Financial To-Do List, summarizes useful financial considerations that can be performed prior to year end. Since this year has looked different for many from a financial perspective, spending a little more time preparing tax related items may be even more beneficial. For instance, if you have had a reduction in MAGI this year, look to see if you now qualify to make a deposit to a Roth IRA. As mentioned, contributions of up to $6,000, $7,000 for catch up eligible, can grow tax-free and distributed tax-free as long as conditions are met. Deposits need to be made prior to filing your returns, which means you have until next April to complete.

If your MAGI has been consistent this year disqualifying you from contributing to a Roth, consider whether a deductible or non-deductible IRA contribution makes sense. And don’t forget your spouses retirement plan eligibility when evaluating contribution eligibility.

The home office deduction for small businesses is expected to be more widely used this year due to the pandemic shutdown and unemployment circumstances. If you think you may be eligible for using this deduction, please contact my office so that I may refer you to my trusted CPA. She will be able to expertly guide you through what can and cannot be used for deductions.

Asset allocation and asset location are two different things that need to be carefully considered. However, in light of the experience of the markets this year and the resulting performance between different asset classes, I suggest caution when making such adjustments inside your investment accounts. The economic shutdown has had a significant economic impact on the global economy, but location investing that offers favorable tax treatment has been and continues to be especially vulnerable to disruption.


Things you can do for your future as the year unfolds.


What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for the coming year? Now is an excellent time to think about the investing, saving, or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives, from building your retirement fund to managing your taxes. You have plenty of choices. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Can you contribute more to your retirement plans this year? In 2021, the contribution limit for a Roth or traditional individual retirement account (IRA) is expected to remain at $6,000 ($7,000 for those making “catch-up” contributions). Your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) may affect how much you can put into a Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, you can contribute if you (or your spouse if filing jointly) have taxable compensation, but income limits are one factor in determining whether the contribution is tax-deductible.1
Remember, withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty starting again in 2021. Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½ to qualify for tax-exempt and penalty-free withdrawal. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals from Roth IRAs can also be taken under certain other circumstances, such as a result of the owner’s death.2*
Make a charitable gift. You can claim the deduction on your tax return, provided you follow the Internal Review Service (I.R.S.) guidelines and itemize your deductions with Schedule A. The paper trail is important here. If you give cash, you should consider documenting it.  Some contributions can be demonstrated by a bank record, payroll deduction record, credit card statement, or written communication from the charity with the date and amount. Incidentally, the I.R.S. does not equate a pledge with a donation. If you pledge $2,000 to a charity this year but only end up gifting $500, you can only deduct $500.3**
See if you can take a home office deduction for your small business. If you are a small-business owner, you may want to investigate this. You may be able to write off expenses linked to the portion of your home used to conduct your business. Using your home office as a business expense involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward, consider working with a professional who is familiar with home-based businesses.4
Open an HSA. A Health Savings Account (HSA) works a bit like your workplace retirement account. There are also some HSA rules and limitations to consider. You are limited to a $3,600 contribution for 2021 if you are single; $7,200 if you have a spouse or family. Those limits jump by a $1,000 “catch-up” limit for each person in the household over age 55.5
If you spend your HSA funds for non-medical expenses before age 65, you may be required to pay ordinary income tax as well as a 20% penalty. After age 65, you may be required to pay ordinary income taxes on HSA funds used for nonmedical expenses. HSA contributions are exempt from federal income tax; however, they are not exempt from state taxes in certain states.
Pay attention to asset location. Tax-efficient asset location is one factor that can be considered when creating an investment strategy.  Asset allocation is an approach to help manage investment risk. Asset allocation does not guarantee against investment loss. 
Review your withholding status. Should it be adjusted due to any of the following factors?
* You tend to pay the federal or state government at the end of each year.
* You tend to get a federal tax refund each year. 
* You recently married or divorced.
* You have a new job, and your earnings have been adjusted.***
Did you get married in 2020? If so, it may be an excellent time to consider reviewing the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and other assets. The same goes for your insurance coverage. If you are preparing to have a new last name in 2021, you may want to get a new Social Security card. Additionally, retirement accounts may need to be revised or adjusted?
Are you coming home from active duty? If so, go ahead and check on the status of your credit and any tax and legal proceedings that might have been preempted by your orders.  
Consider the tax impact of any upcoming transactions. Are you planning to sell any real estate this year? Are you starting a business? Might any commissions or bonuses come your way in 2021? Do you anticipate selling an investment that is held outside of a tax-deferred account? 
If you are retired and in your seventies, remember your RMDs. In other words, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts. Under the SECURE ACT, in most circumstances, once you reach age 72, you must begin taking RMDs from most types of these accounts. This RMD rule applies only to those who will turn 70½ in 2020 or later.6 

Vow to focus on your overall health and practice sound financial habits in 2021. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from professionals who understand your individual situation.


*Keep in mind, this article is for informational purposes only, and not a replacement for real-life advice. Also, tax rules are constantly changing, and there is no guarantee that the tax landscape will remain the same in years ahead.

**These are hypothetical examples and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before modifying your record-keeping approach or your strategy for making charitable gifts.

***These are general guidelines and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to consult your tax, human resources, or accounting professional before modifying your withholding status. 

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.
1., August 12, 2020
2., February 12, 2020
3., April 3, 2020
4., July 31, 2020
5., August 19, 2020
6., December 21, 2019