Right now, a little knowledge is trickling into the wider tax professional community, but it’s something we’ve known around here at Team McLaughlin for quite some time: Properly planning and managing a client’s reported Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) doesn’t just affect the tax bill — it also affects potential health care subsidies.
And the difference can be quite stark. Take “Covered California”, for example(https://www.coveredca.com/shopandcompare/#incomeGuidelines ). In that example, the difference between a $46K AGI and one of a mere $100 less ($45,900) means the difference between a $0 subsidy, and one of $225 per month.
That’s just in California, but similar subsidy cutoffs exist all over the tax and healthcare codes of the states, and federal exchanges. But do not think that massaging this AGI number is “easily” done — it MUST be legal, recognized and be able to withstand an audit. Because you should also know that the Treasury Enforcement Division (i.e. Audit Shock Troops) is also well aware of these cutoffs.
And if you think the ACA (Obamacare) is going away because of political troubles, you may not be operating wisely (or realistically). Regardless of your opinion about the law, it is always best to plan for the status quo. And the new status quo is that the ACA is officially taking effect.
Which is just one more big reason to meet with us before the end of the year: it is MUCH easier to plan for such differences before the year ends than it is to try to “go back” and “massage” what already occurred, to create the desired outcome.
So call us now: (410) 224-2600. Your investment of time and resources now could make a significant bottom-line difference. But you won’t know that unless we meet.
Now, last week, I wrote about some of these “last-minute tax moves” we could look at with you, and (surprise, surprise!) one of the options was increasing your donations. In fact, the other day, I received probably the 20th “Consider including _____ in your holiday giving plans” request of the season. I’m not tired of it (in fact, I welcome it), but it’s also pretty clear that these 501(c)3 organizations all sort of “get” simple tax planning — this year of all years!
So as a tax professional, it warms my heart to see all of that deductibility flying around through mailboxes and the interwebs, and I’m especially happy when I see clients step to the plate and actually give. Because as nice as it can be for your tax bill or healthcare subsidy, there are even better reasons to give…
“Real World” Personal Strategy Note
Valerie McLaughlin’s Reasons To Give Money Away, With or Without a Tax Deduction
“Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
There’s something that happens to your soul when you cut a big check to someone in need.
You signal to those very fears and desires which so often control your unconscious thoughts: “Money doesn’t rule me. I have more than enough, so much more than enough that I’m giving it away.” Then, of course, something special often happens: more money seems to find itself in your hands.
I’m not advocating a mystical pay-it-forward scheme; I’m simply making the observation over years of being a student of how money “works”. And, “coincidentally” it just seems to find itself in the hands of those who give it away.
Why is it that those who are benevolent seem to be well-taken care of, even rich? I know many families of now-significant means who were NOT wealthy when they started to give in large percentages of their income (15%+). Coincidence?
So I’d say that this first dynamic is one significant reason to give: Your soul is set free from the shackles of fear and greed.
Here are two more big reasons:
1) You build a network of grateful friends and organizations. You’ll never know when someone to whom you’ve donated or given (be it time, money, connections, or other resources) comes back to you with something you need, at just the right time.
Personally, I’ve seen this dynamic in play enough times to not dismiss it. When you act or give generously, it’s the most powerful form of networking on the planet. Obviously, there are better, less self-interested reasons to give … but there sure are worse ones.
2) Your perspective can shift in an instant. When you don’t just give money, but also time and heart, you often discover heretofore-unrealized reasons for being grateful about your own present circumstances.
Sometimes giving to institutions that work with the poor can bring home appreciation of your own enormous wealth. And it can also bring home awareness of a poverty which isn’t solved through adding zeroes to a bank balance. But either way, if you do it right, you are changed for the better.
With these reasons, AND the monetary benefits to your tax return, I urge you, Christy: stretch yourself this month. Give more than you think you should. See what happens.
I promise it’ll be good.
All this said, above, I firmly advocate for being careful with your planning of said giving. I don’t suggest impulsivity, just some small risk-taking.
But don’t risk losing out on the tax advantages to gifting appreciated stock, or other, less common, forms of gifting. Shoot me an email, or give us a call (410) 224-2600) if you want to discuss the tax implications of your year-end giving. It is, after all, what we do.
To your family’s well-planned giving over the holidays…