(Source: New York Post): Ruth Brown – There are lots of things you can do before the new tax plan kicks in. You can have your tax break — and beat it, too, say tax experts. The newly overhauled tax system starts in less than two weeks, but there’s still time to cash in on deductions that will disappear on Jan. 1, they said.
The state and local tax deduction will be capped at $10,000 next year, but homeowners in many areas can prepay their 2018 property taxes before Dec. 31 and claim that payment on their 2017 return.
“Pay real estate taxes in advance if your county will allow it,” says financial adviser Darryl Rosen of Rose Advisory Group. “If you pay in 2017, you can take that deduction,” which New York City allows you to prepay — but other municipalities may not.
If you pay quarterly state income taxes, get the fourth-quarter payment in by the end of the year — instead of the due date in mid-January, when you won’t be able to claim the deduction, says Anil Melwani of 212 Tax and Accounting Services.
“The saving can be huge,” he said.
“Say someone owes $10,000 for the fourth-quarter estimate and they’re in an average bracket of 35 percent — the difference between paying on Dec. 29 or Jan. 10 could be a saving of $3,500. It’s worth doing even if it means putting it on a credit card or taking a little loan.”
Although charitable contributions will still be tax-deductible under the new system, most taxpayers will stop itemizing their deductions next year when the standard deduction doubles to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for married couples.
So if you’re feeling generous and have some cash to spare, it’s worth bunching several years of do-gooding donations together and writing the checks before the new year so you can still claim them all on your 2017 return, accountants say.
The charity-minded can then do the same thing a few years down the road to get those deductibles over $24,000, advises Joe Buble, a partner at accounting firm Citrin Cooperman.
“Make a greater charitable contribution and pay two or three years — and then do that again in another three years,” he advises.
You don’t have to decide which charity will get the money immediately — stick it all in a donor-advised fund now and dispense it to your favorite causes as you see fit, he advises.
“You don’t have to dispense it all in one shot. You could give some to your church, to the Salvation Army — once you put it in the fund, you can direct it,” explains Buble.
Meanwhile, there are other financial moves you may want to put off until 2018 to take advantage of the new tax rates if you’re moving to a lower tax bracket, according to financial gurus.
“It you’re in a cash business and only pick up income when you collect it, you can delay billing your clients and customers,” said Patrick Daly, another partner at Citrin Cooperman.
You can’t legally ask a customer to withhold paying you — but you can hold off invoicing.
“Let’s say you’re writing a freelance article and have to submit an invoice. Let’s say The Post pays in 15 days, so submit the invoice on Dec. 30 and it will be taxable to you in 2018,” he said. “But if The Post says, ‘Hey, we’re going to send you the check on the 13th,’ you can’t say no.”
Retirement-minded taxpayers who have plans to convert their pretax individual retirement account to a post-tax Roth IRA should hold off until they’re in a lower tax bracket next year, Rosen advises.
“A big part of retirement planning is getting money into that tax-free bracket to grow unencumbered,” he says.
“[But] unless your financial situation is changing drastically for the worse, you should not do a Roth conversion now. Wait for the lower tax brackets next year.”