Year-end tips to help you at tax time

Take advantage of smart year-end financial moves that can help put money back in your pocket.

Person working on a calculator.

Take advantage of smart year-end financial moves that can help reduce your income tax liability when you file next spring. Bernard Kiely, CFP, CPA, dean of the National Association of Professional Financial Advisors (NAPFA) University School of Taxation, offers these tips:

Donate to qualified charities and organizations

You can generally deduct contributions of up to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income to qualified charities and organizations if they're made before December 31. Consider:

  • Donating stock. You can generally deduct the fair market value of donated stock.
  • Using a community foundation. You direct the money, and the foundation pays it out over a period of years. You can generally deduct the donation the year you paid the foundation.

Check out eight tips for deducting donations.

Contribute to your 401k

Add pre-tax money to your 401k before the end of the year to reduce your taxable income.

Sell losing stock

Sell losing stock before year's end to deduct the capital losses against any capital gains you realized, and reduce your taxes on the money you earned from successful stock. Once you offset your capital gains, you, as an individual, can generally use any excess losses to reduce ordinary income up to an annual limit of $3,000.

Learn 10 facts about capital gains and losses.

Focus on long-term capital gains

"A short-term capital gain is a stock or mutual fund you've bought and sold in less than one year," says Kiely. Long-term capital gains are taxed at fixed percentages. Short-term capital gains are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. Use the time now to evaluate your financial portfolio and shift more funds to investments that offer longer-term tax savings.

Fund education

Provide a family member with the gift of education. Among the educational fund options are 529 plans, typically available through states, and Coverdell ESA (Educational Savings Account). Many states allow residents to deduct contributions made to an education savings account.

Neither State Farm nor its agents provide tax or legal advice.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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