What has changed for you in 2021?
For many of us, 2021 has been full of change and new challenges. Did you start a new job or leave an old job behind? Maybe you bought your first home or sent the kids off to college. If notable changes look place in your personal or professional life, then you may want to review your finances before this year ends and 2022 begins. Closing out 2021 on a strong note will put you in a better position to tackle 2022.
Even if your 2021 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still an excellent time to get cracking and see where you can manage your overall personal finances.
Keep in mind this article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice. Please consult your tax, legal and accounting professionals before modifying your financial or tax strategies.
Do you engage in tax-loss harvesting?
That’s the practice of taking capital losses (selling securities for less than what you first paid for them) to offset capital gains. You might want to consider this move, but it should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you trust.1
In fact, you could even take it a step further. Consider that up to $3,000 of capital losses in excess of capital gains can be deducted from ordinary income, and any remaining capital losses above that amount can be carried forward to offset capital gains in upcoming years.1
Do you want to itemize deductions?
You may want to take the standard deduction for the 2021 tax year, which has risen to $12,550 for single filers and $25,100 for joint. If you think it might be better for you to itemize, now would be a good time to gather the receipts and assorted paperwork.2,3
Are you thinking of gifting?
How about donating to a qualified charity or non-profit organization before 2021 ends? Your gift may qualify as a tax deduction. For some gifts, you may be required to itemize deductions using Schedule A.4
While we’re on the topic of year-end moves, why not take a moment to review a portion of your estate strategy? Specifically, take a look at your beneficiary designations. If you haven’t reviewed these designations for some time, double check to see that these assets are structured to go where you want them to go in the event that you pass away. Lastly, look at your will to make sure it is still valid and up-to-date.
Check on the amount you have withheld. If you discover that you have withheld too little on your W-4 form so far, you may need to adjust this withholding before the year ends.
What about those savings or retirement accounts?
If you are still in the accumulation phase, have you maxed out your retirement accounts? For Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs the 2021 limit is $6,000 ($7,000 if age 50 or older).5 Anything over these limits can always be saved in savings or investment accounts. On the other hand, do you have any accounts with Required Minimum Distributions? This applies to anyone age 72 and up with a tax-deferred retirement account like 401(k) or Traditional IRA, but also may apply to people with inherited IRAs. Be sure to consult with your financial or tax expert if any of these situations may apply to you.
What can you do before ringing in the New Year?
New Year’s Eve may put you in a celebratory mood, eager to say goodbye to the old year and welcome 2022. Before you watch the ball drop, though, consider speaking with a financial or tax professional. Do it now, rather than in February or March. Small end-of-year moves might help you improve your short-term and long-term financial situation.