2018 Year-End Tax Checklist

Joseph Dionisio CFP®

Senior Financial Planner
First Republic Investment Management

November 9, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), signed into law on December 22, 2017, largely became effective in 2018. The law has changed many fundamental tax planning items in the process.

Although some aspects of the Act limit the benefits of year-end planning, other areas provide opportunities. It is now appropriate to review your existing year-end planning and turn your focus to some of the tax provisions that may affect you. Though this piece highlights important considerations, we recommend reaching out to your advisors to review the full impact of this Act on your current and future tax situation. Below is our 2018 checklist to help plan and organize the different aspects of your year-end finances.

Retirement

  • Consider maximizing your 401(k), 403(b) or other company plan contributions. If you are 50 years and older, catch-up contributions are allowed.
  • Maximize your IRA contributions.
  • Consider converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs, especially if you are in a low tax bracket and can pay the taxes with other funds available.
  • If you are 70 ½, make sure you take your required minimum distribution.
  • If you are self-employed, consider opening and funding a SEP IRA.
  • Check beneficiary designations on all retirement plans.
  • Consider making a 2018 charitable donation directly from your IRA using a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) if you are 70 ½ and older.

Gifting

  • Consider using your annual gift tax exclusion amount ($15,000 per donee) for cash gifts.
  • Consider using your annual gift tax exclusion to fund 529 plans.
  • Consider using appreciated assets to fund your charitable gift.
  • Evaluate which charitable vehicle is right for you: donor advised fund, private foundation, charitable trust, etc.
  • Consider using all or a portion of your lifetime federal estate, gift and GST exemption amount of $11,180,000 by creating and funding an irrevocable trust.
  • Before gifting any asset, know the cost basis and the tax consequences to the donee.
  • Revisit your gifting strategies and your estate planning documents.

Income Taxes

  • Work with your tax advisor to prepare an income tax projection for 2018 and 2019.
  • Consider "bunching" your deductions.
  • Consider with your tax advisor either accelerating income in the current year or deferring income to the following year. 
  • Check your withholding to avoid interest and penalties.
  • Consider working with your tax advisor to determine if you will be subject to Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) this year and to evaluate ways to minimize exposure.
  • Consider ways to minimize the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) by reducing modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and net investment income.

Insurance

  • Review your current insurance policies.
  • If you have a material change in life, revisit the amount of coverage.
  • Check the beneficiary designation forms for all insurance coverage.
  • Request an in-force ledger for all permanent life insurance policies.
  • Consider transferring your life insurance into an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT).
  • If your life insurance is owned by an ILIT, make sure you are providing Crummey letters to the beneficiaries.

Investments

  • Review asset allocation for rebalancing.
  • Check to make sure your investments are in line with your risk tolerance and investment objectives.
  • Consider selling some losers to offset gains. You can deduct up to $3,000 of capital losses against ordinary income and carry forward excess capital losses to future years.
  • If you plan to purchase a mutual fund toward year-end, check to see if the fund is making a sizable capital gains distribution.

Now is an opportune time to consider additional year-end strategies that could benefit you and your family while planning for 2019. For additional insights, please reach out to your local First Republic wealth professional.

The strategies mentioned in this article may have tax and legal consequences; therefore, you should consult your own attorneys and/or tax advisors to understand the tax and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this document. First Republic does not provide tax or legal advice. Information is provided to you as is, does not constitute legal or tax advice and we are not acting as your attorney or tax advisor. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here. This information is governed by our Terms and Conditions of Use.