Say Goodbye to 2008 with Some Smart Tax Moves

December 1, 2008

December’s a busy month with holiday preparations, but it’s not too late to focus on last-minute tax savings. Consult with your tax professional to see if these might work for you:

Do an AMT sweep: One of the reasons why it’s wise to consult a tax adviser before you start accelerating deductions is that certain people over $75,000 find themselves more susceptible to the alternative minimum tax if they proceed. The AMT is an alternative taxation process that’s figured separately from your regular tax liability and you have to pay whichever tax is higher. State and local income taxes and property taxes, for example, are not deductible when figuring the AMT. Under the regular rules, medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income can be deducted under the regular rules, but under the AMT, that threshold is 10 percent. Also, under regular rules, interest on up to $100,000 of home-equity loan debt is deductible no matter how the money is used, but under the AMT, the deduction holds only if the money was used to buy or improve a primary or second home. It pays to check your AMT risk before you execute any end-of-the-year tax-savings strategy.

Check investment gains and losses: After the market drops we’ve seen this year, it’s likely you have some capital losses in your taxable investment accounts.  It might make sense to sell and offset them against any capital gains you’ve realized this year. Such losses can offset 100 percent of capital gains plus up to another $3,000 in ordinary income. Any losses in excess of that number can be carried forward to the next tax year.  Note: According to a lot of mutual funds are expected to distribute capital gains to shareholders, despite funds being down 30-40%.  Check your mutual funds to see if you are expected to receive a capital gain distribution; if so, it might make sense to do some tax loss selling before the December distribution to avoid another taxable event.

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Kristine McKinley, CFP®, CPA, is the founding principal of Beacon Financial Advisors, LLC, an independent, fee-only financial planning firm located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and serving the greater Kansas City area.

Kristine focuses on providing fee-only financial planning, investment advice, and tax preparation to individuals and families from all income levels.  About Us

In the News

Investment News – Kristine McKinley discusses the 0% Social Security COLA (for 2016) in No Social Security cost-of-living adjustment in 2016.

Kiplinger Magazine/NAPFA – Kristine McKinley answered reader’s tax questions during the 2013 Jump Start Your Retirement Plan Days sponsored by Kiplinger magazine and the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation.