Tax Planning

The Importance of Tax Planning

Careful planning throughout the year can assist you in reducing the taxes you pay – as well as help you achieve your financial goals. This brief guide provides a basic overview of some of the tax rates, credits, deductions and related considerations that may apply to you.

Income tax planning should not be done in isolation, but instead should be driven by your overall financial goals and integrated with your total financial plan. By developing and implementing appropriate strategies to lessen or shift current and/or future tax liabilities, you can improve your prospects of meeting both long- and short-term objectives. For example, accurately projecting your income taxes can help you determine the cash flow available to you in the coming year.

Keep in mind that tax laws are often complex and frequently change. As a consequence, you should be sure to consult the appropriate professional before making investment and/or tax decisions.



Year-End Considerations

While year-round tax planning is important, you may find extra benefits by gathering all your tax-related facts as the year ends. You may, for example, have a clearer picture of your capital gains and losses, as many mutual fund companies issue distribution estimates by mid-December. The end of the year is a fine time to:

  • Examine your portfolio’s asset allocation
  • Rebalance your portfolio, if warranted
  • Assess holdings (Are they performing as expected?)
  • Add up tax-loss harvesting possibilities
  • Max out contributions to 401(k)s or other tax-advantaged retirement accounts
  • Make last-minute charitable donations
  • Pay deductible taxes for 2011 early, if it helps reduce adjusted gross income
  • If the alternative minimum tax applies to you, take AMT-appropriate actions

Investors should consult a tax professional about their specific situation.