The tax code is about 75,000 pages long, so it’s not surprising there are many overlooked money-saving deductions hidden within it. And with the much higher standard deduction amounts, those who do not itemize think there are no longer ways to reduce your taxes. Since mid-year is a good time to review great tax reduction ideas, here are some to consider:
Charitable contributions if you don’t itemize
Even if you do not itemize deductions you can still take a deduction of $300 for your charitable contributions ($600 if married). Just ensure you get receipts to prove you made the donation. Too many make donations, but lack proof.
Maximizing HSA contributions
If you have qualified high deductible health insurance you can reduce your taxable income by contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA). That way you not only reduce your taxable income, but you pay out-of-pocket qualified medical, dental and vision care with pre-tax dollars! And remember to contribute up to the annual limit ($3,650 for single or $7,300 for married in 2022 PLUS and additional $1,000 if you are age 55 or older).
Student loan interest
You can deduct up to $2,500 in interest paid on student loans from your tax return. This is true even if someone else helps you pay your loans. Parents who have co-signed student loans (creating legal obligation for the debt) often forget that they are also now eligible for the deduction on payments made by them.
Leveraging your itemized deductions
While many taxpayers do not have enough deductions to itemize, if you can bundle two or three years of deductions into one tax year you can maximize your deductions in all tax years. Here’s an example: You budget and make deductions to your favorite charities and church every year. Don’t change that practice, but prior to the end of the year, prepay all of next year’s donations prior to December 31 if it helps exceed the itemized deduction threshold. The following year use the full standard deduction with lower-to-no charitable donations.
Donating appreciated assets (stocks, mutual funds and other investments)
If you itemize deductions, instead of donating cash, consider donating appreciated assets you have owned for more than one year. Your charity gets the same financial value, but you not only get a great charitable donation, you also avoid paying capital gains tax on the investment. This could be a great idea if you feel stuck in a down market, but don’t want the tax exposure by selling a long-held investment.
Over-reporting state refunds
Remember if you use the standard deduction, your state refund does not add to your taxable income and should not be added to income. Even if you do itemize, your state refund may only apply if it provides a tax break. So couple a large state tax refund with your itemized versus standard deduction plan and save even more in taxes.
Taking full advantage of state tax deductions
Remember when you itemize, you can claim up to $10,000 in total taxes as an itemized deduction. But even if you do not have much in the way of state income taxes or property taxes, you can still deduct state sales tax. Even better, if you have a small business, many states now allow you to pay their tax at the entity level and avoid the $10,000 limit all together!
Leveraging retirement accounts to their fullest
There are numerous retirement tax plans that are great tools to help reduce your taxable income. They include 401(k), 403(b) and SIMPLE IRA plans offered through employers and numerous other versions of IRAs. The key is each has an annual contribution limit, and if you don’t use that limit for the year, it is gone. So review your options and try to take full advantage of the tax benefits within each plan.
As with any part of the tax code, certain qualifications must be met and limits apply. Please feel free to ask for help if you think any of these ideas apply to you.
— By Nancy J. Ekrem, CPA
DME CPA Group PC
Certified Public Accountants & Business Consultants