Last-Minute Year-End Retirement Deductions

Man using year end tax strategies to transition from 2022 to 2023.

Year-End Retirement Deductions

The clock continues to tick. Your retirement is one year closer.

You have time before December 31 to take steps that will help you fund the retirement you desire. Here are four things to consider.

1. Establish Your 2022 Retirement Plan

First, a question: do you have your (or your corporation’s) retirement plan in place?

If not, and if you have some cash you can put into a retirement plan, get busy and put that retirement plan in place so you can obtain a tax deduction for 2022.

For most defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans, you (the owner-employee) are both an employee and the employer, whether you operate as a corporation or as a proprietorship. And that’s good because you can make both the employer and the employee contributions, allowing you to put a good chunk of money away.

2. Claim the New, Improved Retirement Plan Start-Up Tax Credit of Up to $15,000

By establishing a new qualified retirement plan (such as a profit-sharing plan, 401(k) plan, or defined benefit pension plan), a SIMPLE IRA plan, or a SEP, you can qualify for a non-refundable tax credit that’s the greater of

  • $500 or
  • the lesser of (a) $250 multiplied by the number of your non-highly compensated employees who are eligible to participate in the plan, or (b) $5,000.

The law bases your credit on your “qualified start-up costs.” For the retirement start-up credit, your qualified start-up costs are the ordinary and necessary expenses you pay or incur in connection with

  • the establishment or administration of the plan, or
  • the retirement-related education of employees for such plan.

3. Claim the New Automatic Enrollment $500 Tax Credit for Each of Three Years ($1,500 Total)

The SECURE Act added a non-refundable credit of $500 per year for up to three years, beginning with the first taxable year (2020 or later) in which you, as an eligible small employer, include an automatic contribution arrangement in a 401(k) or SIMPLE IRA plan.

The new $500 auto-contribution tax credit is in addition to the start-up credit and can apply to both newly created and existing retirement plans. Further, you don’t have to spend any money to trigger the credit. You just need to add the auto-enrollment feature (which does contain a provision that allows employees to opt out).

4. Convert to a Roth IRA

Consider converting your 401(k) or traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.

You first need to answer this question: How much tax will you have to pay to convert your existing plan to a Roth IRA? With this answer, you now know how much cash you need on hand to pay the extra taxes caused by the conversion to a Roth IRA.

Here are four reasons you should consider converting your retirement plan to a Roth IRA:

  1. You can withdraw the monies you put into your Roth IRA (the contributions) at any time, both tax-free and penalty-free, because you invested previously taxed money into the Roth account.
  2. You can withdraw the money you converted from the traditional plan to the Roth IRA at any time, tax-free. (But if you make that conversion withdrawal within five years of the conversion, you pay a 10 percent penalty. Each conversion has its own five-year period.)
  3. When you have your money in a Roth IRA, you pay no tax on qualified withdrawals (earnings), which are distributions taken after age 59 1/2, provided you’ve had your Roth IRA open for at least five years.
  4. Unlike with the traditional IRA, you don’t have to receive required minimum distributions from a Roth IRA when you reach age 72—or to put this another way, you can keep your Roth IRA intact and earning money until you die. (After your death, the Roth IRA can continue to earn money, but someone else will be making the investment decisions and enjoying your cash.)

Remember to consider your Section 199A deduction in your year-end tax planning. If you don’t, you could end up with an undesirable $0 for your deduction amount.

Here are three possible year-end moves that could, in the right circumstances, simultaneously (a) reduce your income taxes and (b) boost your Section 199A deduction.

First Things First

If your taxable income is above $170,050 (or $340,100 on a joint return), your type of business, wages paid, and property can increase, reduce, or eliminate your Section 199A tax deduction.

If your deduction amount is less than 20 percent of your qualified business income (QBI), then consider using one or more of the strategies described below to increase your Section 199A deduction.

Strategy 1: Harvest Capital Losses

Capital gains add to your taxable income, which is the income that

  • determines your eligibility for the Section 199A tax deduction,
  • sets the upper limit (ceiling) on the amount of your Section 199A tax deduction, and
  • establishes when you need wages and/or property to obtain your maximum deductions.

If the capital gains are hurting your Section 199A deduction, you have time before the end of the year to harvest capital losses to offset those harmful gains.

Strategy 2: Make Charitable Contributions

Since the Section 199A deduction uses your Form 1040 taxable income for its thresholds, you can use itemized deductions to reduce and/or eliminate threshold problems and increase your Section 199A deduction.

Charitable contribution deductions are the easiest way to increase your itemized deductions before the end of the year (assuming you already itemize).

Strategy 3: Buy Business Assets

Thanks to 100 percent bonus depreciation and Section 179 expensing, you can write off the entire cost of most assets you buy and place in service before December 31, 2022.

Bonus depreciation can help your Section 199A deduction in two ways:

  1. The big asset purchase and write-off can reduce your taxable income and increase your Section 199A deduction when it gets your taxable income under the threshold.
  2. The big asset purchase and write-off can contribute to an increased Section 199A deduction if your Section 199A deduction currently uses the calculation that includes the 2.5 percent of unadjusted basis in your business’s qualified property. In this scenario, your asset purchases increase your qualified property, which in turn increases your Section 199A deduction.

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