Busy? It’s that time of year. Kids are back in school, football season is here, the Saints, LSU, and McNeese are all winning, World Series Game 5 is tonight, Astros are still in, and the holidays are around the corner. Despite our busy schedules, now is the time to start planning for year-end.

Also in the works is Tax Reform. However, nothing has changed yet. One can only hope that we all benefit from any changes that are put into effect. Regardless of whether or not Tax Reform passes, and despite our busy schedules, here are some things you can do now to make sure you are ready to file your 2017 taxes:

  • Make sure your withholding and estimated taxes are accurate. You want to come as close as possible to matching the amount of income taxes you will owe. Make any adjustments necessary, whether you need to withhold more or less.
  • Review your income to determine whether you are subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax. If you exercised incentive stock options during the year, you may run into the AMT.
  • Confirm your marital status. If you were married or divorced during the year, this determines your December 31 marital status.
  • Evaluate whether you want to make year-end gifts. Gifts of $14,000 per donee can be made to any number of donees and counts as a deduction for tax purposes if the donation is made by December 31, 2017. If given in a check, the check must be cashed by December 31, 2017. Married couples can make joint gifts up to $28,000 to each donee.
    • A year-end gift of appreciated property can move taxable gain to family members in a lower bracket, or make good gifts to the charity of your choice.
    • These gifts or donations do not count against your unified estate and gift tax exemption.
  • Postpone income and accelerate deductions where possible
    • Various Strategies of postponing income or accelerating deductions:
      • Minimize tax on Social Security Benefits
      • Defer a bonus
      • Group miscellaneous itemized deductions in one year
      • Prepay certain expenses using a credit card
      • Maximize casualty losses by settling insurance claims
      • Dispose of passive activities to take advantage of suspended passive losses
      • Make Section 179 and bonus depreciation expenditures
      • Realize stock losses to offset gains
      • Check phaseout thresholds
        • Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
        • Interest on Qualified Education Loans
        • Lifetime Learning and American Opportunity Credits
        • Child Tax Credit
        • Traditional and Roth IRA
  • Accelerating Income and Postponing Deductions
    • If you expect a substantial increase in income in 2018, you may want to accelerate income.
    • Retirement Plan Distributions, assuming you are older than age 59 ½ and there is not any reason for a 10% penalty
    • Selling gain-generating assets
    • Deferring deductions
  • Retirement Planning
    • Start a retirement plan.
      • IRA
      • 401 (k)
      • or SEP
  • Estate Planning
    • $5.49 Million in estate value is exempt from estate taxes. Revisit your estate plans to see if there are any changes that need to be made.


This information is a general discussion of the relevant federal tax laws. It is not intended for, nor can it be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties. This information is provided to support the ideas that may benefit a taxpayer. Taxpayers should seek advice of their own tax and legal advisors regarding any tax and legal issues applicable to their specific circumstances.
 Investment Advisory Services provided through Burnette Financial Planning, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor registered in the states of Louisiana and Texas.