Marc Fortier

Year End Saving More Important Than Year End Sales

With Black Friday days away and the holiday season right around the corner, many of us are in spending mode! The spending may be buying gifts, doorbuster deals for ourselves or end of year bargains on things like cars.

But before you use your dollars on "deals," consider ways to get a "discount" on your taxes and improve your personal finances while there is still time in 2017.

Take the “free money”: Most employers offer a 401K and match a certain percentage. Trevor Larkan, CPA and lecturer at Bentley University, suggests contributing at least that match amount. This increases your retirement savings and your entire contribution is tax deductible.

Tax Loss Harvesting: This can be helpful for people who own stocks. According to Portfolio Manager Driscoll DoCanto of the DoCanto Group, "Basically, it’s selling a stock that you have a loss in, and using that loss to offset a stock you may have sold for a gain. Its purpose is to reduce the tax liability."

Roth IRA: If your income declined in 2017, your tax savings can increase. An IRA is a tax deductible retirement account. You fund the Roth IRA with your after tax money, but unlike a traditional IRA you don’t have to pay money when you withdrawl the money. Matthew Peck of SHP Financial says, "Consider converting a portion of your IRA money into ROTH IRA money and take advantage of your lower tax rate."

Receive by giving: Donations to nonprofits have tax benefits. "This is a worthwhile action in any event but, if you do itemize your deductions, this contribution will lower your taxable income," Larkan says.

Max your 401K: The 2017 limits are $18,000 for people under 50 and $24,000 for people over 50. If your contributions are not on pace to reach these amounts, you can still make up for lost time. Most employers allow you to increase the percentage of your check for a 401K contribution.

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