Recent Comments

    Managing Your Taxes in 2015

    moneyThere’s one thing you can count on as we kick off a new year—changes to the tax code. While there are few major new laws affecting taxpayers in 2015, it is important to understand how any adjustments to tax rules or your income might affect your tax liability. It is a critical aspect of your overall financial plan, and can help you avoid any surprises when you file your 2015 tax return next year.

    Be aware that new laws can be implemented during the year. Congress has the ability to adjust tax laws, and even to do so retroactively. The tax code in place at the start of 2015 could be altered before year’s end, with those changes being made effective for the whole year.

    Here are some important tax considerations for the New Year:

    Get health insurance or pay

    The individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act that took effect January 1, 2014, requires most individuals to obtain a qualifying level of health insurance, or be subject to a fee. In 2015, the fee has increased to the higher of:

    •   2% of your yearly household income (capped at a certain level); or

    •   $325 per person ($162.50 for a child under 18), with a family maximum of $975

    If your employer provides health coverage, you do not have to purchase additional insurance on your own. Those who don’t have employer coverage can review options available from the health insurance exchanges. Visit www.healthcare.gov for more information.

    Take advantage of tax savings by deferring income

    If you typically “max out” your workplace retirement plan contributions, you are able to adjust those deferral amounts to a higher level in 2015. The elective deferral limit for employees has risen to $18,000, $500 more than in 2014. Those who are 50 and older can make an additional $6,000 in contributions ($500 more than 2014) to their 401(k), 403(b) or federal government Thrift Savings Plan. Remember that for every dollar of income you defer into your retirement plan on a pre-tax basis, you reduce your current tax liability.

    Pay attention to a new limit on IRA rollovers

    IRA contribution limits remain the same for 2015, but there is an important rule change for IRAs. Now, tax laws allow only one rollover from an IRA to a different IRA in a 12-month period. The “one rollover per year” limit applies in circumstances where you withdraw money from an IRA, but then roll it to another IRA within 60 days to avoid any current tax or penalty consequences. Direct transfers from an IRA with one trustee to an IRA with another can happen as often as you wish. Unless it is absolutely necessary, you want to avoid taking IRA distributions prior to age 59-1/2 to eliminate the risk of incurring a penalty. It’s best to talk with a tax professional before doing an indirect rollover to make sure you understand all the rules.

    Account for inflation in tax rates and your income

    Tax brackets are adjusted yearly for inflation. In 2015, the income thresholds for each bracket were raised by about 1.5%. The standard deduction amount (used if you don’t itemize deductions) and the personal exemption amount are also adjusted for inflation. It is important to be aware of how all of these factors might affect your tax liability. On the other side of the coin, if you receive a salary increase and/or bonus in 2015, it could impact your tax bill. Work with your tax advisor to help determine if the amount of tax withheld from each paycheck is sufficient to avoid an under withholding penalty.

    Brandon Miller, CFP, is a financial consultant at Brio Financial Group, A Private Wealth Advisory Practice of Ameriprise Financial Inc. in San Francisco, specializing in helping LGBT individuals and families plan and achieve their financial goals.