"Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well."
– Josh Billings

I woke up Monday morning, after the wonderful holiday weekend … and I had a realization: after today, there are only FIVE days left in 2011.

Perhaps not a genius realization — fine. BUT, if you’re smart about how you handle these days, you can pay yourself quite well, when tax time rolls around.

The VERY good news is that we’ve been able to clear out three "FAST ACTION" appointment slots this week only for clients and friends who are committed to following our advice quickly, and who want ensure that their tax bill for the 2011 tax year is the lowest it can possibly be.

There are a veritable slew of beneficial tax provisions which are expiring on Saturday night, and some of them can still be leveraged. And with the payroll tax cut deal being struck, there aren’t any last-minute shenanigans from Congress for all of us to worry about!

For a list of them (some of which is technical, but it’s all pretty clear), see here:
http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Web/20114945.htm

Email me to snag a Fast-Action Appointment, or call: (908) 789-8407 — and may I suggest you do it quickly? These slots are sure to go fast. After that point, you’ll be put on a short waiting list.

But for those of my clients and friends who prefer to "do it yourself" (though with THIS tax code, I’m not sure that’s always wise), I’ve put together a brief, and actionable "checklist" to ensure that you’re squeezing every last drop out of the deductions available to you for 2011.

And, on the early note — let me wish you a premature Happy New Year, 2012!

Now, let’s get deducting…shall we?

Fred Greene’s
"Real World" Personal Strategy

Ultra Last-Minute Tax Moves for 2011

Because time is short, and some moves do require more than this week to pull off, I’m restricting myself to those items which you can realistically affect before the end of the year.

This will be short, and (hopefully) sweet to your wallet…

1) Use Your FSA Funds
Money set aside in a flexible spending account must be spent by the end of the year, else the funds are lost. Some employers allow a 2-and-a-half month grace period. So check with your employer to see what your personal deadline is for utilizing your FSA savings.

2) Make an Extra Payment on Your Mortgage
If you own a house with a mortgage, and you can swing the cashflow hit, add an additional payment before year-end, and the interest on that payment will be deductible for 2011. Of course, that means that it WON’T be so for 2012, but perhaps you can use this as an "extra" payment … and get ahead of the escrow game.

3) Make the Switch to a Roth IRA
Roth conversions are taxed in the year the conversion happens. However taxpayers have the option to undo part or all of that conversion by their filing deadline. But in order to retroactively undo part of their conversion next year, they first have to convert this year. So if you are on the fence about converting, consider taking the plunge before the end of the year knowing that you (and/or WE) can re-characterize some or all of the amounts early next year.

4) The old standby
You know how I feel about charitable giving by now (I hope). This week, of course, is a big one for non-profits who are the happy beneficiaries of last-minute donations. You can pay early on a monthly gift, or give a lump-sum gift. The purpose (aside from the many, many benefits to the organization, and to you), of course, being to knock you into a different tax bracket, perhaps, or to simply cut your tax bill, regardless of the bracket status. Note: This is the LAST year where charitable donations from an IRA are handled generously.

Now, there are plenty others. But these are the quickest, and the easiest (aside, perhaps, from the Roth conversion — but that can be done quickly).

Do you have others you want to explore? Give us a call (908) 789-8407 or shoot me back an email, and we’ll help you out.

Best to you! We’d love to see your family THRIVE in 2012!