Great Tax Reduction Ideas

Picture of a hand on a knob. The knob is labeled "Tax", and the hand is turning it to a place on the dial marked "Low".

The tax code is about 75,000 pages long, so it’s not surprising there are many overlooked money-saving deductions hidden within it. And with the much higher standard deduction amounts, those who do not itemize think there are no longer ways to reduce your taxes. Since mid-year is a good time to review great tax reduction ideas, here are some to consider.

Maximizing HSA contributions. If you have qualified high deductible health insurance you can reduce your taxable income by contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA). That way you not only reduce your taxable income, but you pay out-of-pocket qualified medical, dental and vision care with pre-tax dollars! And remember to contribute up to the annual limit ($4,150 for single or $8,300 for married in 2024 PLUS and additional $1,000 if you are age 55 or older). Unlike FSA plans, you do not lose unused funds at the end of the year–instead they roll over. Plus, some HSA plans offer investment options funds, which helps your balance grow even more.

Student loan interest. You can deduct up to $2,500 in interest paid on student loans from your tax return. This is true even if someone else helps you pay your loans. Parents who have co-signed student loans (creating legal obligation for the debt) often forget that they are also now eligible for the deduction on payments made by them.

Donating appreciated assets (stocks, mutual funds and other investments). If you itemize deductions, instead of donating cash, consider donating appreciated assets you have owned for more than one year. Your charity gets the same financial value, but you not only get a great charitable donation, you also avoid paying capital gains tax on the investment. This could be a great idea if you feel stuck in a down market, but don’t want the tax exposure by selling a long-held investment.

Understand taxability of state refunds. Remember if you use the standard deduction, your state refund does not add to your taxable income and should not be added to income. Even if you do itemize, your state refund may only apply if it provides a tax break. So couple a large state tax refund with your itemized versus standard deduction plan and save even more in taxes.

Taking full advantage of state tax deductions. Remember when you itemize, you can claim up to $10,000 in total taxes as an itemized deduction. But even if you do not have much in the way of state income taxes or property taxes, you can still deduct state sales tax. Even better, if you have a small business, many states now allow you to pay their tax at the entity level and avoid the $10,000 limit all together! In most states, you can take the standard deduction on your Federal tax return, but itemize deductions on your state return.

Leveraging retirement accounts to their fullest. There are numerous retirement tax plans that are great tools to help reduce your taxable income. They include 401(k), 403(b) and SIMPLE IRA plans offered through employers and numerous other versions of IRAs. The key is each has an annual contribution limit, and if you don’t use that limit for the year, it is gone. So review your options and try to take full advantage of the tax benefits within each plan.

As with any part of the tax code, certain qualifications must be met and limits apply. Please feel free to ask for help if you think any of these tax reduction ideas may apply to you.

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Gwen Harrison President

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