It’s Halloween, so here’s a scary thought: You could be throwing your money away if you haven’t taken steps to decrease your tax liability and spend down your flexible savings account.
Not to worry, we’ve got a few ideas that can help. Start now, and you’ll be in good shape come Dec. 31, the last day for most 2015 tax savings.
Go see a doctor. Hearing aids, eyeglasses, contacts, health insurance premiums and more are deductible as is medical mileage to doctors, hospitals and the pharmacy. If your spending equals more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income, 7.5% if 65 or older, you may be eligible for a tax deduction. Use your flexible spending account to pay these bills. FSAs used to have a use it or lose it rule, but now companies can allow a $500 FSA rollover. Still, it might be best to use all your FSA money by year’s end to ensure that you don’t lose any.
Take stock of your stocks. Have the stock market highs and lows affected your portfolio? There’s still time to sell stocks or mutual funds and take the losses to offset your income.
Fix up your rental property. Make repairs to rental property before December 31 to reduce rental income when you file your tax return.
Donate. You can deduct contributions to qualified charities in the year you make them. So, gifts charged to your credit card before year end will count for 2015, even if you don’t pay the bill until 2016. Also, a check will count for 2015 as long as it goes into the mail in 2015. Don’t forget to clean out the garage and closets and make non-cash donations.
If you miss the Dec. 31 deadline for tax savings, consider these:
Pay it forward. Payments made in the first 3 months of 2016 to a qualified educational institution can be used towards credit on your 2015 tax return with regards to the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the Tuition & Fees Deduction.
Take two tax breaks in one. 18 or older? Not a dependent or full-time student? You could be eligible for the Saver’s Credit. The tax credit for low- to moderate-income employees allows you to save for retirement and get a credit for doing so. In short, you put money into an IRA and get your IRA deduction, then you also get a credit for your IRA contribution. IRA contributions for 2015 can be made until April 18, 2016.
Disclaimer: Tax Lounge is an informational source for industry news and related topics. We take every effort to provide honest and accurate tax information, but this information should not be a substitute for professional tax advice. Use our office locator to find your local tax office or subscribe to our free newsletter.