Are you like me where you find yourself feeling a little anxious near the end of the year because of the things you wanted to get done, but didn’t yet? Which reminds me, I need to clean the gutters and winterize the pop-up camper. Each year, December seems to come faster and faster; and, it seems increasingly difficult to keep up with the list of household chores we need to finish before the snow flies again.
Many of my clients feel this same anxiety regarding their finances as the end of the year approaches. Most of us create a financial list of items we want to accomplish before the holidays are in full swing. Hopefully, this quick financial checklist will alleviate some of your anxiety and allow your financial professional to assist you in accomplishing these tasks.
Financial End of Year Checklist
Required Minimum Distributions
Once you reach age 70 ½, years of age, you must distribute money from IRAs and employer Plans
Distribute RMDs from IRAs and retirement plans before 12/31/2016
Work with your financial planners to distribute. Consider setting up automatic annual distributions
Although you have until April 15th of the following year to make your IRA contribution, many want to get it done before 12/31
Determine the amount you can put into your IRA or Roth IRA. Maximum contribution is $5,500. If you are older than 50, $6,500 is the max
Once you know what you qualify to put into your IRA each year, submit your check to your IRA before April 15 of the following year. Consider setting up a Periodic Investment Plan to automatically deposit your IRA contributions each year
Tax Loss Harvesting
Often, our after-tax accounts have unrealized losses which could be used to offset other gains and/or income
Determine where you have losses and whether you have gains/income you would like to offset. This is done as part of a thorough investment review
Sell the positions before year end to “harvest” the loss. You must wait 30 days before buying the position back or buying a similar investment. Helps avoid capital gain taxes on gains, dividend income, and ordinary income ($3,000 limit)
Over the course of the year, your portfolio allocation is out of balance
Request the portfolio be “rebalanced”
Allows you to keep your portfolio aligned with your risk tolerance
Has anything material or significant changed in your circumstances?
Update beneficiaries on accounts, wills, trusts, goals and objectives, etc. with the professionals you are working with
Helps you maintain accuracy of your account registrations (owner, address, phone number, beneficiaries) and protects your wishes on how your assets will be distributed to heirs
Keeping your financial plan up-to-date requires periodic meetings with your financial planner to assure you are still on track with your goals and objectives
Review expenses, account balances, investment contributions, goals, and objectives
Share information with your financial planner so he/she can update your plan and help you review progress, issues, and solutions to keep you on track with your goals and objectives. Also, for retirees, it can help address income needs for the coming year(s)
If you are looking for ways to minimize taxes for the year, have you reviewed your situation to determine what could be done to minimize taxes?
Working with your financial planner and tax professional, identify ways you may be able to reduce your tax bill
Are there things you can automate that will help your tax situation for several years and give you other benefits like maxing out your 401K or IRA?
*The table represents a list of things to think about as you approach the end of each year. Many of the suggestions offered in the table require a comprehensive conversation with Financial and/or Tax Professional to assure you can take advantage of certain strategies while understanding the pros and cons of various options available to you given your unique set of circumstances.