You read Pt 1 and came back for Pt 2. We salute you. So now without further ado the tax tips you’re looking for…
- Start saving for a down payment on a house.
Maybe you’ve already paid down your debt with past refunds, have an emergency fund and are a regular retirement saver. Is it your dream to own a home? Then apply your refund to that savings bucket. If you’re ready to pull the trigger on your purchase or bought in 2020 with the historically low interest rates we’re seeing right now, don’t forget that your points can be deductible as can home mortgage interest and real estate taxes.
- Maximize HSA contribution to decrease taxable income.
Similar to the dependent care FSA mentioned in Part 1, health savings account contributions decrease the amount of taxes you pay in the year you make contributions. The trick is that HSAs aren’t available to everyone as they are meant for people with high deductible health insurance plans. However if you do have access to one, not only can you stash money pre-tax to cover your medical expenses like eyeglasses, prescriptions and doctor visits, but the account can earn interest and rolls over from year to year and from employer to employer.
If you don’t qualify for an HSA perhaps your employer provides access to a Medical FSA. You can elect how much to contribute from your pre-tax income and use the funds on medical expenses. Here’s where this account gets tricky. The funds are a use-it or lose-it deal so you need to be really good at estimating how much you’re going to spend in a calendar year or risk losing some cash. This didn’t used to be a big deal years ago because you could use up whatever was left at the end of the year buying OTC products, think 🩹💊 . Thanks to coronavirus (bet you thought you’d never see those words used in a non-sarcastic manner 🙂) you can do this again. However, stay alert to hear if the government switches this feature back off again. Honestly we hope they never do, but if it does happen just know that it’ll mean getting a prescription for things like Tylenol just to use your money.
- Take advantage of catch up retirement contributions if you’re 50+.
Didn’t start saving for retirement with that first job? While you might be behind in your savings you don’t have to stay that way. The limits on contributions are actually $1000 higher if you’re 50 or older. So find a way to minimize other expenses so you can max out your contributions.
- Defer retirement to help grow savings.
This one might not seem like a great tip if you’re nearing retirement age. Unless you’re facing the reality from the comic above that you didn’t save enough and will either need to significantly downsize your life to try to stretch your limited savings or continue working. If you continue working, you can still contribute to an IRA and as the previous tip stated, contribute more.
- Take all RMDs to avoid 50% penalty.
First of all RMD stands for Required Minimum Distribution. The IRS wants to collect taxes on all of that money you saved for retirement throughout the years without paying them a piece. So once you hit 70.5 years old, they force you to start taking money out whether you need it or not. The catch? If you don’t withdraw all that they tell you to take out they hit you with a 50% penalty. So to avoid losing money to useless penalties, just go ahead and take out the full RMD.
- Make estimated payments to avoid underpayment penalties.
Did you take our advice from our Divorce Your Job series or our posts on starting your own side hustle? Well watch out for an increased tax liability since you’re now considered self-employed. Make estimated tax payments throughout the year to avoid wasting money on penalties.
- Document your business expenses to lower tax liability including up to 100% of health insurance costs.
And we don’t mean document like in the comic above. Need tips on how to keep track of all of your business expenses? While Quicken is a software we’ve used in the past and Quickbooks is always a great go-to, maybe you’re not ready to learn a new program.
Join us on February 13th at 2:30 PM EST for our free Entrepreneurship class and ask about other tracking options.
- Subcontract and deduct non-core administrative expenses.
Getting bogged down with administrative tasks instead of focusing on the key activities of your business? Hire somebody else to do it for you and deduct the cost from your taxes. Looking for a virtual assistant to handle calendar management, social media and other admin tasks for you? Allow us to provide those business services for you by the hour. You don’t have to file any tax paperwork until you reach $600 paid for services. The form that you’d end up filing is the 1099-NEC.
Did you find any of these tips helpful? Talk back to us in the comments.