From The BALANCE Financial Guide
*This publication is only intended to be used for general informational purposes. Consult a tax professional for the most current data and/or personal advice.
What is “smart tax management”? It’s a combination of timely filing and taking advantage of everything that can reduce the amount of money you pay in taxes. While tax management does take a bit of planning, organization, and know-how, the overall financial benefit is strong.
Maximize retirement savings plans
If you have an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan (such as a 401(k), 403(b), or 457) available to you, it makes sense to use it. Since you make contributions with pre-tax dollars, your taxable income and possibly your tax rate will be lowered. Investments grow on a tax-deferred basis, so when you retire and take the money out the earnings will be taxed on your new, and usually lower, tax rate.
IRAs are part of good tax management too. Contributions to a traditional IRA are tax-deductible, and account earnings aren’t taxed until you withdraw that money at age 59.5. There are income restrictions, though, and if you’re an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan you can’t deduct your contributions. While contributions to a Roth IRA are always non-deductible, the earnings are tax-free.
Pay the right amount
You know you are paying the correct amount of taxes if you neither owe taxes nor receive a large tax refund. While a refund may seem positive, it is really not making the most of your income during the year. For example, a $2,000 tax refund translates into $166 that you don’t have in your pocket every month. On the other hand, if you owe and can’t pay the entire sum, you’ll have to pay interest and possibly penalties, which will only add to your tax debt.
Make the most of your adjustments, deductions and credits
Tax adjustments and deduction are expenses that you can subtract from your income, resulting in a lower taxable income. Common examples of these are:
Filing your tax return by April 15 (or August 15 if you file an extension) is important. The drawbacks of not filing include:
Properly managing your taxes can greatly reduce the amount of money you pay in taxes and put more money into your pocket. After all, why pay more if you don’t have to?
Our BALANCE Financial Guide is dedicated to helping you balance life’s important decisions.