You Need Tax Planning If…

June 7th, 2024

Life can alter your taxes with little to no warning. Here are several situations where you may need to schedule a tax planning session:

Getting married or divorced. You could get hit with a Marriage Penalty in certain situations when the total taxes you pay as a married couple is more than what you would pay if you and your partner filed as Single taxpayers. The opposite can also occur, when you benefit from a Marriage Bonus. This often occurs when only one spouse has a job or earns income in other ways such as a business. Another situation when tax planning becomes critical is if you and your future spouse both own homes before getting married.

If you’re going from Married to Single, make the process include tax planning. Under divorce or separation agreements executed after 2018, alimony is no longer deductible by the spouse making payments and isn’t considered taxable income for the spouse receiving payments at the federal level. The opposite is true for divorce or separation agreements executed before 2019 – alimony is generally deductible by the spouse making payments and must be reported as taxable income by the spouse receiving payments.

Child support is also not deductible by the spouse making payments, and isn’t considered taxable income for the spouse receiving payments. In addition, not all assets are taxed the same, so their true value will vary.

Growing a family. Your family’s newest addition(s) also comes with potential tax breaks. You’ll need a Social Security number for your newborn child and to understand the impact this little gem will have on your full-year tax situation. These include breaks to help pay for child care or adoption-related expenses, the child tax credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Changing jobs or getting a raise. Getting more money at work is a good thing. But it also means a higher tax bill. So you may need to review your tax withholding to ensure there are no surprises at the end of the year. And when leaving an employer, expect a tax hit for severance, accrued vacation, and unemployment income payments.

Another potential tax problem if you get a raise or otherwise earn more money is that you may no longer qualify for certain tax breaks, as most tax deductions and tax credits phase out as your income increases. Consider scheduling a tax planning session to discuss the phase out thresholds that may affect you in 2024.

Buying or selling a house. You can exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 if married) of capital gains when you sell your home, but only if you meet certain qualifications. A tax planning session can help determine if you meet the qualifications to take advantage of this capital gain tax break, or other home-related tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction or credits for installing qualified energy-efficient home improvements.

Saving or paying for college. There are many tax-advantaged ways to save and pay for college, including 529 savings plans, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and the Lifetime Learning Credit. As you plan your future, understanding how these expenses can be managed often happens long before you begin your college journey.

At the end of the day, when in doubt please reach out. There is no reason to pay more than you need to and a simple tax planning session can make all the difference.