As we approach year end, now is the time for individuals, business owners and family offices to review their 2023 and 2024 tax situations and identify opportunities for reducing, deferring or accelerating their tax obligations.
With rising interest rates, inflation and continuing market volatility, tax planning is as essential as ever for taxpayers looking to manage cash flow while paying the least amount of taxes possible over time.
The information contained within this article is based on current federal laws and policies as of the date of this publication and focuses on tax planning for federal taxes. Read on as we outline the federal income tax for 2023 and 2024, strategies for managing income and deductions, long-term capital gains, net investment income tax, retirement planning, and various other tax implications.
Taxpayers should consult with a trusted advisor when making tax and financial decisions regarding any of the items below.
2023 Federal Income Tax Rate Brackets
2024 Federal Income Tax Rate Brackets
Taxpayers should consider whether they can minimize their tax bills by shifting income or deductions between 2023 and 2024. Ideally, income should be received in the year with the lower marginal tax rate, and deductible expenses should be paid in the year with the higher marginal tax rate. If the marginal tax rate is the same in both years, deferring income from 2023 to 2024 will produce a one-year tax deferral, and accelerating deductions from 2024 to 2023 will lower the 2023 income tax liability.
Actions to consider that may result in a reduction or deferral of taxes include:
On the other hand, taxpayers that will be in a higher tax bracket in 2024 may want to consider potential ways to move taxable income from 2024 into 2023, such that the taxable income is taxed at a lower tax rate. Current year actions to consider that could reduce 2024 taxes include:
The long-term capital gains rates for 2023 and 2024 are shown below. The tax brackets refer to the taxpayer’s taxable income. Capital gains also may be subject to the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax.
2023 Long-Term Capital Gains Rate Brackets
2024 Long-Term Capital Gains Rate Brackets
Long-term capital gains (and qualified dividends) are subject to a lower tax rate than other types of income. Investors should consider the following when planning for capital gains:
An additional 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) applies on net investment income above certain thresholds. Net investment income does not apply to income derived in the ordinary course of a trade or business in which the taxpayer materially participates. Similarly, gain on the disposition of trade or business assets attributable to an activity in which the taxpayer materially participates is not subject to the NIIT.
In conjunction with other tax planning strategies that are being implemented to reduce income tax or capital gains tax, impacted taxpayers may want to consider deferring net investment income for the year.
The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program is funded by contributions from employees and employers through FICA tax. The FICA tax rate for both employees and employers is 6.2% of the employee’s gross pay, but only on wages up to $160,200 for 2023 and $168,600 for 2024. Self-employed persons pay a similar tax, called SECA (or self-employment tax), based on 12.4% of the net income of their businesses.
Employers, employees, and self-employed persons also pay a tax for Medicare/Medicaid hospitalization insurance (HI), which is part of the FICA tax, but is not capped by the OASDI wage base. The HI payroll tax is 2.9%, which applies to earned income only. Self-employed persons pay the full amount, while employers and employees each pay 1.45%. An extra 0.9% Medicare (HI) payroll tax must be paid by individual taxpayers on earned income that is above certain adjusted gross income (AGI) thresholds, i.e., $200,000 for individuals, $250,000 for married couples filing jointly and $125,000 for married couples filing separately. However, employers do not pay this extra tax.
Premiums an individual pays on a qualified long-term care insurance policy are deductible as a medical expense. The maximum deduction amount is determined by an individual’s age. The following table sets forth the deductible limits for 2023 and the estimated deductible limits for 2024 (the limitations are per person, not per return):
Individuals may want to maximize their annual contributions to qualified retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).
Discover how the SECURE Act 2.0 transforms retirement planning in the overview here.
The foreign earned income exclusion is $120,000 in 2023 and increases to $126,500 in 2024.
A taxpayer must pay either the regular income tax or the alternative minimum tax (AMT), whichever is higher. The established AMT exemption amounts for 2023 are $81,300 for unmarried individuals and individuals claiming head of household status, $126,500 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses, $63,250 for married individuals filing separately and $28,400 for estates and trusts. The AMT exemption amounts for 2024 are $85,700 for unmarried individuals and individuals claiming head of household status, $133,300 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses, $66,650 for married individuals filing separately and $29,900 for estates and trusts.
The unearned income of a child is taxed at the parents’ tax rates if those rates are higher than the child’s tax rate.
For individual taxpayers who itemize their deductions, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced a $10,000 limit on deductions of state and local taxes paid during the year ($5,000 for married individuals filing separately). The limitation applies to taxable years beginning on or after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. Various states have enacted new rules that allow owners of pass-through entities to avoid the SALT deduction limitation in certain cases.
Cash contributions made to qualifying charitable organizations, including donor advised funds, in 2023 and 2024 will be subject to a 60% AGI limitation. The limitations for cash contributions continue to be 30% of AGI for contributions to non-operating private foundations. Tax planning around charitable contributions may include:
To make the most of your generosity, learn more about how Smith + Howard’s tax group can help as you navigate Charitable Giving now and in the future.
For gifts made in 2023, the gift tax annual exclusion is $17,000 and for 2024 is $18,000. For 2023, the unified estate and gift tax exemption and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption is $12,920,000 per person. For 2024, the unified estate and gift tax exemption and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption is $13,610,000. All outright gifts to a spouse who is a U.S. citizen are free of federal gift tax. However, for 2023 and 2024, only the first $175,000 and $185,000, respectively, of gifts to a non-U.S. citizen spouse is excluded from the total amount of taxable gifts for the year. Tax planning strategies may include:
Learn more about Smith + Howard’s Estate and Gift Tax Planning services to develop and maintain the perfect plan.
Net operating losses (NOLs) generated in 2023 are limited to 80% of taxable income and are not permitted to be carried back. Any unused NOLs are carried forward subject to the 80% taxable income limitation in carryforward years.
A non-corporate taxpayer may deduct net business losses of up to $289,000 ($578,000 for joint filers) in 2023. The limitation is $305,000 ($610,000 for joint filers) for 2024. A disallowed excess business loss (EBL) is treated as an NOL carryforward in the subsequent year, subject to the NOL rules. With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the EBL limitation has been extended through the end of 2028.
Whether an entrepreneur, investor, or other successful individual, your tax situation requires a tax team committed to minimizing your tax liability. We believe that you deserve the focus, responsiveness, and proactive planning to ensure your personal financial goals are met.
At Smith + Howard, our team has a wealth of experience in managing personal taxes, gained through years of dedicated service to high net worth individuals and families. As trusted advisors, we are committed to comprehensively understanding your circumstances and long-term objectives, striving to earn your trust through our dedication and expertise.
For more information or help, please call us at 404-874-6244 or contact a Smith + Howard advisor today.
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