Now that fall is officially here, it’s a good time to start taking steps that may lower your tax bill for this year and next.
One of the first planning steps is to ascertain whether you’ll take the standard deduction or itemize deductions for 2022. Many taxpayers won’t itemize because of the high 2022 standard deduction amounts ($25,900 for joint filers, $12,950 for singles and married couples filing separately and $19,400 for heads of household). Also, many itemized deductions have been reduced or abolished under current law.
If you do itemize, you can deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI), state and local taxes up to $10,000, charitable contributions, and mortgage interest on a restricted amount of debt, but these deductions won’t save taxes unless they’re more than your standard deduction.
Bunching, Pushing, Pulling
Some taxpayers may be able to work around these deduction restrictions by applying a “bunching” strategy to pull or push discretionary medical expenses and charitable contributions into the year where they’ll do some tax good. For example, if you’ll be able to itemize deductions this year but not next, you may want to make two years’ worth of charitable contributions this year.
Here are some other ideas to consider:
- Postpone income until 2023 and accelerate deductions into 2022 if doing so enables you to claim larger tax breaks for 2022 that are phased out over various levels of AGI. These include deductible IRA contributions, child tax credits, education tax credits and student loan interest deductions. Postponing income also is desirable for taxpayers who anticipate being in a lower tax bracket next year due to changed financial circumstances. However, in some cases, it may pay to accelerate income into 2022. For example, that may be the case if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket next year.
- If you’re eligible, consider converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA by year end. This is beneficial if your IRA invested in stocks (or mutual funds) that have lost value. Keep in mind that the conversion will increase your income for 2022, possibly reducing tax breaks subject to phaseout at higher AGI levels.
- High-income individuals must be careful of the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) on certain unearned income. The surtax is 3.8% of the lesser of: 1) net investment income (NII), or 2) the excess of modified AGI (MAGI) over a threshold amount. That amount is $250,000 for joint filers or surviving spouses, $125,000 for married individuals filing separately and $200,000 for others. As year-end nears, the approach taken to minimize or eliminate the 3.8% surtax depends on your estimated MAGI and NII for the year. Keep in mind that NII doesn’t include distributions from IRAs or most retirement plans.
- It may be advantageous to arrange with your employer to defer, until early 2023, a bonus that may be coming your way.
- If you’re age 70½ or older by the end of 2022, consider making 2022 charitable donations via qualified charitable distributions from a traditional IRA — especially if you don’t itemize deductions. These distributions are made directly to charities from your IRA and the contribution amount isn’t included in your gross income or deductible on your return.
- Make gifts sheltered by the annual gift tax exclusion before year end. In 2022, the exclusion applies to gifts of up to $16,000 made to each recipient. These transfers may save your family taxes if income-earning property is given to relatives in lower income tax brackets who aren’t subject to the kiddie tax.