Year End Tax Planning Series

From the Desk of Michael T. McCormick

Year End Tax Planning Series

Although tax planning is a 12-month activity, yearend is traditionally the time to review tax strategies from the past and to revise them for the future. Yearend has also become a time when there is an increasing need to take a careful look at what’s changed within the tax law itself since the beginning of the year. Opportunities and pitfalls within these recent changes – as they impact each taxpayer’s unique situation—should not be overlooked. This is particularly the case during year-end 2016. Here are some of the many consideration that taxpayers should review as year-end 2016 approaches. I will break these down over a series of blogs in the next several weeks.

Data, including 2015 return

Year-end planning should start with data collection and a review of prior year returns. This includes losses or other carryovers, estimated tax installments, and items that were unusual. Conversations about next year should include review of any plans for significant purchases or dispositions, as well as any possible life changes. Alternative minimum tax liability also needs to be explored as well as potential liability for the net investment income tax and the Additional Medicare Tax.


Taxpayers holding investments toward the end of the year, whether in the form of securities, real estate, collectibles, or other assets, often have an opportunity to reduce their overall tax bill by some strategic buying and selling (or like-kind exchanging). Balancing the existing tax rates within those considerations is part of that challenge: the ordinary income tax rates, the capital gain rates, the net investment income tax rate, and the alternative minimum tax (AMT), all play a role.

Income caps on benefits

Monitoring adjusted gross income (AGI) at year end can also pay dividends in qualifying for a number of tax benefits. Often tax savings can be realized by lowering income in one year at the expense of realizing a bit more in the other: in this case, either 2016 or 2017. Some of those tax benefits that get phased out depending upon the taxpayer’s AGI level include:

• itemized deductions
• personal exemptions
• education savings bond interest exclusion
• maximum child’s income on parent’s return (form 8814):
• medical savings account adjustments
• education credits
• student loan interest deduction
• adoption credits
• maximum Roth IRA contributions
• maximum IRA contributions for individuals

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I will have a bunch of year end tips next Friday that could save you tons at tax time.