You work hard for your money so it only makes sense to work just as hard to keep it from the clutches of Uncle Sam. Here are 5 ways high earners can save money on taxes.
1. Maximize your 401(k) contribution.
If you’re still working and your company offers a 401(k) or similar defined contribution plan, contribute up to the maximum. For example, you can contribute up to $18,000 in a 401(k) in 2016. If you’re in the 35% tax bracket, you’ll reduce your tax bill this year by $6,300. Plus, your money will grow tax-deferred until you start withdrawing it.
2. If you’re over 50, make a “catch up” contribution.
The IRS allows people over 50 to make additional “catch-up” contributions in certain types of retirement plans. For example, in a 401(k), you can make an additional $6,000 contribution for a total of $24,000. At a 35% tax rate, you’ll cut your tax bill by $8,400. If you’re a super high earner, some of these tax benefits may be phased out so it makes sense to check with a financial advisor to see how much you can save in your particular situation.
3. Donate a portion of your IRA to charity.
Generally speaking, when you withdraw money from your IRA it’s taxed as ordinary income. However, if you don’t need the money, you can donate it directly to a charity and never pay tax on it.
If you’re over 70 ½, you have to take an annual required minimum distribution from your IRA—and that’s generally taxable to you. However, if you donate that distribution directly to charity, you pay no taxes on the distribution. The government encourages charitable giving and if you have extra money, you can help a charity and save money on taxes.
4. Pass along highly-appreciated assets to your heirs.
If you own stock or some other investment asset that has appreciated greatly in value, you can pass it along to your heirs through inheritance and they get what’s called a “step up in basis.” This means when they inherit the asset, they don’t have to pay any tax on the gain in that asset that accrued while you owned the asset.
For example, if you owned a stock for 20 years and it grew in value from $100,000 to $300,000, the capital gain is $200,000. And if you sold that stock, you’d have to pay taxes on $200,000. However, if your heirs inherited that stock, their new cost basis would be $300,000 and they would not owe any tax on the $200,000 capital gain. This is a great way to pass along assets to the next generation and help them save money on taxes.
5, Turn ordinary income into long-term capital gains.
Just like giving to charity, the government encourages us to be long-term investors. As a result, if you hold certain investments for more than 12 months, your capital gains are taxed at a lower rate.
For example, if you’re in the 25 – 35% tax bracket and you hold your investments for at least 12 months, your capital gains are taxed at a 15% rate instead of your ordinary income rate of 25 – 35%. On a $50,000 capital gain, that could save you $5,000 to $10,000.
Warren Buffett, the second richest person in America, says his tax rate is less than his secretary’s. How can that be? It’s because almost all of his income comes from capital gains which is taxed at a preferential rate. He pays himself $100,000 per year to run Berkshire Hathaway and the bulk of the rest of his income (reportedly about $40 million in 2010), comes from capital gains.
We work closely with our clients to monitor this short-term/long-term capital gains issue and strive for long-term gains to help minimize your taxes.
Do Proactive Planning to Save Money on Taxes
Smart, proactive planning can save you thousands of dollars in taxes. Plus, you can give to charity or support your heirs and help them save money on taxes. Any way you look at it, proactive planning is a smart move.
Give Us a Call
If you’d like to discuss how to save money on taxes, please give our office a call at (913) 624-1841 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here to help you.
About Bill Keen
Bill Keen is the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, an independent Registered Investment Adviser serving affluent clients preparing for retirement. Bill brings over 23 years of financial services experience and holds the CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR designation. Bill created Keen Wealth Advisors to build one of the country’s most personal and trusted wealth and retirement advisory firms. He is passionate about serving his clients as a trusted financial coach.