How to Cut Your 2012 Tax Bill Today
Did you know there are still ways to save on your 2012 taxes? Many people (mistakenly) believe that once the clock strikes midnight on January 1, all tax strategies need to be in place–hardly! Here are two ideas you can take to the bank today (assuming you meet some requirements) to keep your Uncle Sam from digging deeper into your pocket.
Good Old Fashioned IRA
Sit down, kid, and Grandpa OG will tell you a story….
Long before all the Roth IRA hoopla, there was just an”IRA.” Now, to distinguish them, we called one a ‘traditional’ IRA. That’s where your opportunity lies. In 2012, the maximum contribution to an IRA was $5,000 ($6,000 if over age 50). However, you have until whenever you file your taxes, or April 15, whichever is earlier, to contribute to an IRA and count it for your 2012 tax bill. Contributions are tax deductible, which means it lowers your overall income that is taxed (page one of the 1040), thereby reducing your tax. If you were in the 25% bracket, a $5,000 contribution would reduce your income taxes by $1,250. Not exactly dollar-for-dollar, but it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye!
Traditional IRA Deduction Limits
Here’s where the funky requirements come into play: first, as long as you’re under age 70 1/2 and have earned income, you’re eligible to contribute to an IRA. Whether or not it’s deductible will depend on a couple of things:
If you’re covered by a company sponsored plan (401k, etc) then your contribution’s deductibility is phased out as follows:
-Single: $58,000-$68,000 AGI
-Married Joint Filer: $92,000-$112,000
-Married Separate Filer: $0-$10,000
If you not covered by a company plan, then there is no phase out.
Your spouse is covered by a company plan? then your phase out is $173,000-$183,000.
Small Business Owner Plans
If you’re fortunate enough to own your own business, there’s another way for you to cut into your tax bill. It’s called a SEP IRA, which stands for Self-Employed Pension, and its available to most business owners. They work very much like traditional IRA’s, but the limits are much different.
Small business owners would first calculate their profit. The maximum SEP contribution is 25% of that profit number (up to a maximum of $50,000). The tricky part of small business plans? You must offer all your employees the same thing you offer yourself. For example, let’s say your profit is $50,000 and you decide to contribute the maximum, 25%, into your SEP. That’s $12,500–nice job! But, if you have employees, you must contribute 25% of their salaries into a retirement plan for them, too! That can add up quickly–so be careful!
Bonus Tax Savings
In 2012, eligible lower-income taxpayers can claim a nonrefundable tax credit for the applicable percentage (50%, 20%, or 10% depending on filing status and AGI) of up to $2,000 of his or her qualified retirement savings contributions as outlined in the Saver’s Credit chart.
So there you have it-a couple of last-last minute tax strategies to lower even last year’s tax bill!
Photo: Philip Taylor
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