Tax planning in Oak Brook - Make mid-year tax moves

QTA Consultants, Ltd./Renata Bliumaite

We’ve already reached the halfway point of the year.

Strategy: Focus on your tax picture for 2024. If you wait until the end of the year to start tax planning, you may be too late. Although a mid-year plan can take various forms, here are five common tax-saving moves you might use during the summer.

1. Harvest capital gains or losses. You can use capital losses from sales of assets like securities to offset capital gains plus up to $3,000 of high-taxed ordinary income. Thus, you might “harvest” (i.e., realize) a capital loss at mid-year if you’re showing a net short-term gain in 2024. Conversely, if you harvest a short-term gain, it can be offset by prior losses. If you end up with a net longterm gain, it’s usually taxed at a rate of 15%. The maximum 20% rate only hits high-income investors. Factor taxes into your decisions. Tip: Keep an eye on your capital gains and losses as the year progresses.

2. Cool off with home energy credits. If you make energy-saving improvements at home this summer, you may qualify for one or two recently enhanced home energy credits. • Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit: 30%, up to a maximum of $3,200, for qualified expenditures for things like windows and heat pumps. Various dollar limits apply. • Residential Clean Energy Credit: 30% of the cost of qualified property like solar panels and water heaters, with no annual dollar cap. Tip: The IRS is reminding taxpayers that good recordkeeping is essential. (IR-2024-137, 5/9/24)

3. Rent out your vacation home. If you own a vacation home that you rent out and also use personally, you can offset rental income with qualified expenses. But you can’t deduct an overall rental loss if your personal use exceeds the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days the home is rented out. For instance, if you take a family vacation at the home for 15 days this summer, you’ll exceed the personal-use limit. But reducing personal use by just one day can give you a better tax result. Tip: Days spent on maintenance or repairs— before, during and after the busy season—don’t count as personal-use days.

4. Sweep up charitable deductions. You may decide it’s a good time to clean out your garage, basement or attic. If you find items in good condition that you no longer need—golf clubs, dresses, a couch—don’t simply throw them in the trash. Donate them to charity. This entitles you to a charitable deduction based on the fair market value (FMV) of the items if you itemize. Tip: Rely on value guidelines from a reputable source, like the Salvation Army or Goodwill, to value used property.

5. Feather your 401(k) nest egg. This year may be turning out better than you expected tax-wise. Thus, you might have more flexibility to increase your 401(k) salary deferrals. The limit in 2024 is $23,000, or $30,500 if you’re age 50 or older. The more you can contribute, the more you can set aside for retirement without tax erosion. Tip: Making bigger contributions may also increase employer-matching contributions.