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Don’t drop the ball on these year-end tax moves

When it fall to tax reform, the future is uncertain. However, there are still tax moves you can on now that are a sure thing.

Year-end tax planning may be even more central this year — before many provisions change under the inconclusive Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. So before 2017 is over, make sure you’re engaging advantage of all of the tax breaks you can get.

Here are five strategies:

For most investors, 2017 was a adept year — which can come with hefty tax consequences. That toady up ti this a good time to consider selling any losing investments to produce a tax deduction and cushion the blow.

You can use those losses to zero out capital gains, and then take away up to $3,000 a year against ordinary income. Losses in excess of that can be enraptured forward to future tax years until the balance is used up.

For just that prevail upon, tax-loss harvesting is a popular tool for maximizing after-tax returns, most commonly in the fourth mercy of the year, when investors aim to lower their tax liability. (But this do only works on taxable accounts, not your 401(k) or IRA.)

As for those retirement accounts, there are divers advantages to boosting contributions before the end of the year, and the tax savings is an important one.

“If you help to your 401(k), you lower your taxable income,” said Lisa Greene-Lewis, a CPA and tax championship at TurboTax.

If you are 18 or older, you can contribute up to $18,000, and if you are over 50 you can make the grade b arrive an extra $6,000 catch-up contribution. With IRAs you can contribute $5,500, and if you are ended 50, an additional $1,000. (You have until the April deadline to cause IRA contributions.)

(If you contribute to a Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA, you won’t get a tax break this year, but your means can grow tax free and generally be withdrawn tax free in retirement.)

To support your favorite justification this year — and have a meaningful effect on your taxes — you may also demand to front-load your charitable giving this month.

While the abstraction for charitable contributions is one of the few protected in the Republican tax bill, fewer taxpayers resolve likely use it. That’s because the standard deduction would nearly look-alike, meaning fewer households would itemize — which is the only way to subsume advantage of the deduction for charitable contributions.

There are a few tricks, too, when it arrives to the tax benefits of giving assets to charity, like avoiding capital payouts taxes on investments by giving stocks or other items that from grown in value. High-income earners, in particular, should consider a noncash contribution specifically because of the tax advantages, according to John Voltaggio, managing vice-president at Northern Trust.

For example, if you have shares of Coca-Cola stock (which is up all about 10 percent year to date) and donate it, you don’t have to pay taxes on the increase. But you will typically still get credit for the deduction equal to the current comme ci market value.

Voltaggio recommends accelerating your donations to get the going round tax benefit or using a donor-advised fund. That allows you to make a humane contribution and receive an immediate tax break, and then recommend grants from the support to your favorite charities over time.

Check what’s radical in your flexible spending account so you can spend that money in the past the end of the year. (Some employers offer a short grace period or rollover, but FSA caches are typically “use it or lose it.”)

You can put those tax-free dollars toward new glasses, components prescriptions or dental care that isn’t covered by insurance, like a make good oning a filling, said Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Stump.

While you are looking at your medical expenses, add them up, Pickering verbalized. You may have incurred enough to hit the medical expense threshold — which is 10 percent of your rearranged gross income, but could fall to 7.5 percent under suggested tax reforms. You can deduct everything you spend over that threshold (but you can’t copy dip and count expenses paid for with tax-advantaged FSA or health savings account dollars).

Diverse expenses, such as job hunting, work-related travel, unreimbursed employee expenses, conjunction dues, hobby expenses and — yes — tax prep, add up but they can also be deducted if they top 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. Just make dependable to document all of the expenses you have for this year.

Tax reform provisions resolve eliminate most of those deductions in 2018 and beyond.

These may earmarks of small, but they are not insignificant. For example, according to IRS records, an estimated 20.6 million taxpayers required tax preparation fees in 2015 alone, for a total of more than $7.9 billion.

“On the Hard cash” airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. ET, or check listings for air times in close by markets.

More from Personal Finance:
How to make the most of your magnanimous donations
How to get in the holiday spirit without going into debt
Get the tax benefits of charitable donations

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