Y2K jitters are looming, so it might not be a bad idea to give yourself a little extra time now to make investment moves before year-end. Congress did not pass any major tax legislation this year, but the window to make year-end tax savings moves is getting smaller.
One suggestion could be to shift income from one year to another. If you expect to be in the same or higher tax bracket this year than in 2000, defer income until 2000 and shift expenses to 1999 to reduce taxes this year. If you usually get a year-end bonus, ask your employer to pay you the bonus next year. If you own your own business and bill your clients, see if you can defer some billing until next year.
If you expect to be in a higher tax bracket next year, accelerate income this year and defer expenses until 2000. Be careful not to push yourself into a higher tax bracket for this year. You might ask your employer to receive your bonus early, but you should be careful how your adjusted gross income will affect other items on your tax return.
- If you are planning a marriage and your spouse and spouse have substantial, similar incomes, put off the marriage until 2000 to avoid the marriage tax penalty. If one of you has much less income than the other, consider getting married this year rather than next. You will generally be taxed less on the same income if you file a joint return than you would if each of you filed single returns.
- If you have a property tax bill due in January, pay it in December to clinch a deduction on your 1999 return.
- Consider making charitable contributions before the end of the year.
- Schedule elective medical procedures before the end of the year.
- Prepay your January 1 home mortgage interest in December.
- If you have a few "loser" stocks that you wouldn't mind unloading, now is the time. You may be able to sell enough dogs to wipe out all your realized capital gains for the year.
- If you own appreciated mutual fund shares held over 12 months and are contemplating selling before year's end, sell before the December dividend so your entire gain will qualify for the 20% rate. If you wait, part of your dividend will almost certainly consist of ordinary income, which means more taxes.
- Line up Social Security numbers, even for newborns born before 11:59 on New Year's Eve, or the IRS may disallow the $2700 personal exemption deduction on next year's tax bill.
There is still time to make some maneuvers that might save you some money on your April 2000 tax bill. As always, check with your accountant if you haven't already. They may be able to offer more tips for your particular situation.