Only five weeks remain this year.  Today we offer some year end tax tips for 2019.  On this show we talk about:

  • Loss Harvesting
  • Qualified Charitable Distributions
  • And Capital Gains Distributions from Mutual Funds

Watch: Year End Tax Tips for 2019

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Year End Tax Tip #1 for 2019: Loss Harvesting

Year End Tax Tips for 2019

Let’s start with something called “loss harvesting.” If you own an investment that has decreased in value, you might be able to sell it and reduce your taxes. Here is how this works.

First, the investment can’t be in an IRA or a 401(k). It has to be in a taxable account.

Secondly, if it has decreased below what you paid for it, this is called your cost basis, you can sell it and reduce your tax liability.

Any losses you generate will offset capital gains. But, you can also use up to $3,000 of capital losses against your other income. The rest you typically carry forward to next year. You can use it against prior years taxes, but that gets more complicated.

Here is an important thing to remember. You can’t buy the same position within 30 days of the sale. So let’s say you sold Ford stock for a loss. You have to wait more than 31 days to buy it back. Otherwise, you have a wash sale and your losses will be disallowed.

Now, here is the issue. When the investment markets have been very strong like they have this year, it can be difficult to find those losses. But you may still have them and it might make sense to take advantage of them.

Year End Tax Tip #2 for 2019: Qualified Charitable Distributions From An IRA

The next thing to consider is a qualified charitable distribution from your IRA. There are some very specific rules for this and here are the basics.

First, you must be at least 70 1/2.

Secondly, the funds must go from your IRA directly to the charity of your choice.

How does this help you? Well you don’t have to report the distribution as income. So if you aren’t spending your required minimum distribution, this may be able to save you some money.

Year End Tax Tip 3 for 2019: Watch Out For Capital Gains Distributions

Year End tax Tips for 2019 3

This last item isn’t so much something that can save you money, but may help you avoid some trouble next spring.

If you own actively managed mutual funds in a taxable account, pay attention to capital gains distributions. These happen when the fund managers buy and sell positions in the fund. By law, they must distribute those proceeds to their shareholders.

Here is where the potential problem lies.

  1. In good years like this, those gain distributions can be large.
  2. Most of the time, investors automatically allow those distributions to reinvest. This means they buy more shares of the fund.
  3. If they are big enough, it could cause a cash crunch next spring. What this means is your refund could be smaller, or you may owe more than you were expecting.

So how do you deal with this? Unless you sell your position, you can’t avoid the gains. But you may want to take the distribution in cash instead. This can help you avoid the cash crunch and allow you to diversify your holdings a little.

Take some time in the next few weeks to talk to your tax expert or your financial advisor. Planning ahead can help you save money or avoid a potential headache later.

What's On Your Mind?

Do you have a question about what’s happening in the world of finance or investing?  Is there a topic that has you curious?  We’d love to hear from  you.

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Financial Planning

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors  He typically works with people who are planning for retirement.  Fleming Watson is a Registered Investment Advisory firm located in Marietta Ohio.  Our firm primarily serves Marietta, Parkersburg, Williamstown, St. Marys, Belpre, Vienna and the surrounding communities in Washington and Noble Counties in Ohio and Wood and Pleasants county in West Virginia.

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