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Your Greedy Uncle – Minimizing the Impact of Taxes

There are only two things that are certain:  death and taxes.  Now some folks will say paying taxes is “patriotic”; and, while I’ll concede, that we all have a moral and legal obligation to pay our taxes, I hardly consider paying more taxes patriotic.   Personally,  I subscribe to the philosophy that this obligation is to pay the MINUMUM amount of taxes!

Rule #5 – Make sure you proactively take the necessary actions to ensure you pay the minimum, legally required amount of taxes.

The taxes that you pay to local and state governments are going to be based on three things:

  • The amount of your income
  • The amount of your deductions from income
  • The amount of your tax credits

Minimizing the impact of your taxes requires managing each one of these elements carefully.  Let’s take them one at a time.

First, we start with income, while we would like the amount that you earn to be as high as possible, there’s a number of ways to structure this income to minimize the tax bite.  For example:

  • You can maximize your contributions to 401k plans and have this reduce your taxable income (an added bonus is that many 401k contributions come along with some sort of match from your employer).
  • You can contribute to a “traditional IRA” an have this reduce your taxable income.
  • You can participate in other non-qualified compensation plans that reduce your taxable income.
  • You can structure your employment contract to “equalize” income in a manner to avoid moving in to higher tax brackets during a given year.
  • You can structure your investment transactions (e.g. stock sales, option exercises, etc.) in a manner to minimize the tax impact.

Effectively implemented, each of these techniques will enable you to play less taxes.

Second, you can take advantages of deductions to minimize the impact of taxes.  For example:

  • In many states you can contribute to a 529 college savings plan and have your taxable income reduced.
  • You can maximize your itemized deductions on your Federal taxes.  Make sure to claim:

o   Home interest paid

o   Property taxes paid

o   State income taxes paid

o   Car registration fees paid

o   Medical expenses

o   Investment advisor fees

o   Work with a good CPA that has knowledge of other specific deductions available for your situation

  • Claim any investment losses.  Investment losses of up to $3,000 can be used to offset income.
  • Business deductions.  There are a variety of business expenses that may be claimed to offset income.

Finally, in some instances, you can take advantage of tax credits.  Tops amongst the available credits are:

  • In some states contributions to 529 college savings plans actually result in a tax credit.
  • The Child Care Tax Credit.  This credit can be worth up to $1,000 per child.
  • The Adoption Tax Credit.  This credit can be worth up to $12,970
  • The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.  If you run a small business and provide health care for your employees, you can claim up to 35% of the costs of this healthcare in certain situations.

While death and taxes are a certainty, there’s no obligation to pay excessive taxes prior to meeting the grim reaper.   A good accountant working together with a skilled financial planner can help you to significantly minimize the impact of taxes.

ACTION ITEM – Ask your friends for a recommendation for a good accountant of financial planner.  Ask either – or both – to take a look at your previous year’s tax return and offer their thoughts on whether or not they might have some ideas to help you.  You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by their answer.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]×300.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]F5 Financial Planning, L.L.C. (F5FP) is a comprehensive, fee-only, financial planning firm serving Naperville and surrounding communities.

Led by Curt Stowers, F5FP focuses on providing corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and families with comprehensive financial planning that leads to financial security, simplicity, and success. As an executive with Caterpillar for 18 years, Curt brings real, practical experience to financial planning. Curt has successfully passed the examination to be awarded the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ credential.[/author_info] [/author]

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Curt Stowers

Curt Stowers

Curtis Stowers helps individuals and families across the United States grow their financial assets, particularly in the Naperville, IL region. He is a Certified Financial Planner, holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois, and is the founder of F5 Financial.