Getting your financial house in order as 2014 draws to a close? Now's the time to implement what certified financial planner Stacy Francis, president and CEO of Francis Financial, terms a "triple defense" against taxes.
Using Francis's three-pronged approach to reducing the tax bite her clients will suffer for 2014, you should defer income, where possible, until 2015; increase exemptions, deductions and charitable contributions; and put your investments "on the fast track," she said.
For many, additional income for 2014 might come in the form of a year-end bonus. "Ask to have it paid out in January," said Francis. And if self-employed, "wait to send [invoices] out until the new year, and have that money come into the business in 2015."
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When it comes to deductions, max them out in the year you find yourself in the highest tax bracket. Cluster medical expenses in 2014, increase donations to charity, and consider prepaying next year's real estate taxes this year, Francis advised.
Lastly, protect as much income from taxes as possible by upping contributions to tax-free retirement savings schemes, such as employer 401(k) plans. "Make sure you take advantage and max that out by 2014," Francis said.