This coming Saturday is New Year's Eve. But for most financial and tax purposes, Friday this week is the end of the year, and your last chance to get a little financial "buttoning up" done.
If you plan to deduct certain expenditures on your Schedule A for 2011, you need to make the payment this week. Included would be medical expenses, home mortgage interest, state & local taxes, certain employment-related expenses, and - of course - charitable contributions. Have you noticed an increase in solicitations from charities asking for your consideration at year end? Charities know that people who think about making a donation typically have one eye on the calendar and the other on their checkbook this time of year. So if you're going to donate, do it by Friday and you may save a couple of bucks.
There's an over-70 postscript about charitable contributions this year: once again the IRS is allowing taxpayers who are over 70 1/2 and required to take IRA distributions to direct those distributions to a charity and still meet their requirement. Most folks have met their requirements by now, but if you're not sure, give us a call.
Another year-end area worth scrutiny is the area of capital gains and losses. When you sell a stock, bond, or mutual fund (outside of a retirement account) you will have a gain or a loss and will need to report it on your tax return. If you have realized capital gains booked earlier this year ("realized" meaning something you have sold) it may be time to look at your portfolio. If you have a losing position that does not show signs of a near-term rebound, this week is your chance to sell and trim your tax bill.
(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author's opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).