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4 Last Minute Tips To Lower Your Tax Bill

You still have time to make tax-deductible contributions for 2020 and get back an extra refund if you already filed your income tax return. You can also take advantage of extra opportunities to build up tax-free savings for your future. Check out my recommendations below to see if any of my tips can work for you!


1. Build Retirement Security With a Spousal IRA

You generally need to have earned income from a job to be eligible to make IRA contributions. But if your spouse worked but you did not, he or she can contribute to a spousal IRA on your behalf. The use of a spousal IRA strategy allows couples who are married filing jointly to contribute $12,000 to IRAs per year—or $14,000 if they are age 50 or older due to the catch-up contribution provision. The IRA can be a traditional or Roth IRA based on the same joint income limits that apply to regular contributions.

Contributing to a spousal IRA can be particularly valuable because spouses who didn't earn income for the year also didn't have an opportunity to contribute to a 401(k) or other retirement savings plan at work.


2. Give Your Kids a Head Start on Tax-Free Savings With a Roth IRA

Kids of any age who earned some income from working in 2020 – even just from a summer or part-time job – can still contribute to a Roth IRA for the year and build tax-free savings for the future. They can contribute up to the amount they earned from working, but no more than the $6,000 limit. You can even give them the money to contribute. You may need to sign extra papers if you are setting up the account for a minor.

Starting contributions when they're young – and continuing with the savings habit as they get older – can make a huge difference in their financial future. For example, if they contribute $6,000 every year starting when they're 18, and bump up their annual contributions to $7,000 when they turn 50, they could have more than $1.6 million in tax-free savings when they're 65 if their investments return 6% per year.


3. Get a Triple Tax Break With a Health Savings Account (HSA)

If you had an HSA-eligible health insurance policy in 2020 with a deductible of at least $1,350 for self-only coverage or $2,700 for family coverage, you still have time to contribute to a health savings account. You can contribute up to $3,550 for self-only coverage and up to $7,100 for family coverage into an HSA plus an extra $1,000 if you were 55 or older, whether your insurance was through your employer or on your own. Your contributions are tax-deductible and you can use the money tax-free for eligible medical expenses at any time, either now or in the future. If you only had an HSA-eligible policy for part of 2020, your contribution limit may be prorated based on the number of months you had eligible coverage.

Remember, for it to be considered tax free the medical expenses can include over-the-counter and prescription drugs, health insurance deductibles and copayments, and other out-of-pocket medical expenses you incurred since you opened the account. You can also withdraw money tax-free from the HSA to pay your health insurance premiums if you're receiving unemployment benefits or if you're continuing your employer's coverage on COBRA after losing your job.

You'll reap the biggest tax benefits if you can afford to leave the money growing in the account and then use it tax-free for eligible medical expenses in the future. After you turn age 65, you can also withdraw HSA money tax-free for Medicare Part B, Part D and Medicare Advantage premiums, making it a great source of savings for medical expenses in retirement.


4. Find Tax-Deductible Savings if You're a Freelancer

If you had any income from self-employment in 2020, even if you just earned some freelance money on the side, you can still make tax-deductible contributions to a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP). You can contribute up to 25% of your net earnings from self-employment, with a $58,000 maximum for 2020, which grows tax-deferred for retirement. If you are interested in a SEP or unsure if you qualify please reach out, i'll be happy to discuss this with you.

Another option for self-employed savings is a solo 401(k). You can only make 2020 contributions to a solo 401(k) if you already set up the account by Dec. 31, 2020. The maximum amount a self-employed individual can contribute to a solo 401(k) for 2020 is $57,000 if he or she is younger than age 50. Individuals 50 and older can add an extra $6,500 per year in "catch-up" contributions, bringing the total to $63,500. (These amounts are higher than the 2019 maximums.)


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