Year End Financial Checklist

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As we approach the end of the year, we inevitably will see lots of lists…Christmas lists, Best of 2016 lists and New Years Resolutions even become lists that rarely get fully addressed.  The following is an important checklist to review before the calendar turns over and it’s too late:

  1. Age 70 ½ or older, you must take your Required Mandatory Distribution from your IRA, SEP or SIMPLE IRA, 401k or qualified retirement plan prior to year end to avoid one of the Uncle Sam’s most oppressive penalties, 50%!!!
  2. Offset capital gains, by realizing losses in the same year to reduce your tax bill.  Want to keep the position?  No problem, buy the same number of shares at least 30 days before or after the sale to avoid a wash sale.
  3. Maximize your employee contributions to your employer’s retirement plan to build your nest egg efficiently, up to $18,000 in a 401k (403b, TSP and 457 plans as well) and $12,500 in a SIMPLE IRA.
  4. Self-employed & no employees, consider a Solo-K…that is a 401k for an individual (or immediate family).  It must be established by year-end in order to take advantage of the tax advantaged contributions for 2016.
  5. Pay taxes on income today and on your estate when you die (if greater than $5,450,000 per person)! Want to reduce your taxable estate, make gifts to any individual up $14,000 each year.  If you can’t think of any friends or family who would appreciate the cash (I promise there are volunteers lining up), take a look at the next item.
  6. The United States is consistently the most charitable nation in the world.  Americans give more than any other nation.  Aside from reducing your taxable estate, you can itemize those contributions against your income to save current income taxes.  You are not limited to cash.  Investments and real property provide a deduction of the current market value…appreciated stocks, real estate, jewelry, collectibles, art, cars, boats, etc. Be sure to seek the assistance of a competent tax advisor to determine the deductibility of the gift, it can be complicated.

Americans love lists, most don’t add a penny to your pocket book. While this holiday season is sure to provide plenty of distractions and opportunities to add to personal debt, this list is intended to help your family keep more of your hard earned dollars, build a nest egg and do good for others.  May you all be blessed in 2017!

Bill Martin is a Vice President with 1845 Capital of Raymond James,

7001 North 10th Street, Suite 205. McAllen, TX 78504. 956-331-2777

Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification  requirements.

World Bank “World Development Indicators Report” from 2006 ranks the U.S. as the most charitable by percentage of Gross Domestic Product (1.7%), followed by Canada and the Untied Kingdom (0.73% each).