Tax policy will be driven by the calendar this next year as many tax policies will expire come Jan. 1, 2013, no matter who wins the election. The point to remember is that even if Congress addresses these issues in the next year, your financial plan will be affected in some way no matter what income bracket you are in.
However, trying to predict what will actually happen is a lesson in spinning plates. You never know what plates drop first. So here are some tips on ways to at least take advantage of what we do know.
#1. Roth Conversions: Individuals pay ordinary income tax when converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The fair market value of the securities or cash becomes income for the year on the day the conversion is recorded. At today’s tax rates it may be better this year than waiting. There is no longer an income limit on conversions so anyone with IRA’s can convert. Because it may push you into a higher income tax bracket, conversions should be discussed with a tax professional. Now is a great time of year to talk about your options.
#2. Consider municipal bonds as a tax-free income possibility. Even if you aren’t in high tax brackets a municipal bond gives you a low risk option for earning a little more on your investments.
#3. Revisit asset allocation. As part of the review process this is always part of the conversation. Best thing is to bring your 1040 or tax forms with you to your next review. Let your tax professional know who your advisor is and vice versa.
#4. Revisit your estate plan. If you don’t have a plan, let’s discuss where you are and if you need one.
#5. Lastly, don’t let the tail wag the dog. Review your investments and continue making deposits to retirement accounts and savings accounts. Having a good financial plan is the best plan for dealing with uncertain times.