As the year-end approaches, individuals, business owners and family offices should be reviewing their situations to identify any opportunities for reducing, deferring or accelerating tax obligations. Areas that should be looked at in particular include tax reform provisions that remain in play, as well as new opportunities and relief granted earlier in 2020 under the CARES and SECURE Acts.
Individual’s Tax Planning Highlights:
Retirement Plan Contributions
- If an employer (including a tax-exempt organization) has a 401(k) plan or 403(b) plan, the maximum amount of elective contributions that employee can make in 2020 is $19,500 ($26,000 if age 50 or over and the plan allows “catch up” contributions, which allows an additional $6,500).
- The SECURE Act permits a penalty-free withdrawal of up to $5,000 from traditional IRAs and qualified retirement plans for expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child after December 31, 2019. The $5,000 distribution limit is per individual, so a married couple could each receive $5,000.
- Previously, individuals were not able to contribute to their traditional IRAs in or after the year in which they turn 70½. The SECURE Act eliminates this age cap.
- The SECURE Act changes the age for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-qualified retirement plans and IRAs from age 70½ to age 72 for individuals born on or after July 1, 1949.
- The CARES Act allows eligible individuals to withdraw up to $100,000 from qualified retirement plans during 2020 without incurring the 10% early distribution penalty. Individuals or their spouses, dependents or other household members affected by COVID-19 may qualify for this relief. Such taxable distributions can be included in gross income ratably over three years. Taxpayers may recontribute the withdrawn amounts to a tax-qualified plan or IRA at any time within three years after the distribution. These repayments will be treated as a tax-free rollover and are not subject to that year’s cap on contributions.
- Currently, individuals who make cash contributions to publicly supported charities are permitted a charitable contribution deduction of up to 60% of their AGI. Contributions in excess of the 60% AGI limitation may be carried forward in each of the succeeding five years. The CARES Act suspends the AGI limitation for qualifying cash contributions and instead permits individual taxpayers to take a charitable contribution deduction for qualifying cash contributions made in 2020 to the extent such contributions do not exceed the taxpayer’s AGI. Contributions to non-operating private foundations or donor-advised funds are not eligible for the 100% AGI limitation.
Simplified Employment Pension Plans
- Small businesses can contribute up to 25% of employees’ salaries (up to an annual maximum set by the IRS each year) to a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan. The SEP contribution must be made by the extended due date of the employer’s federal income tax return for the year that the contribution is made. The maximum SEP contribution for 2020 was $57,000. The maximum SEP contribution for 2021 is projected to be $58,000.
- The calculation of the 25% limit for self-employed individuals is based on net self-employment income, which is calculated after the reduction in income from the SEP contribution (as well as for other things, such as self-employment taxes).
Net Operating Losses
- Under the TCJA, net operating losses generated beginning in 2018 were limited to 80% of taxable income and could not be carried back but could be carried forward indefinitely. The CARES Act permits individuals with net operating losses generated in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2021, to carry those losses back five taxable years. The CARES Act also eliminates the 80% limitation on such losses.
College 529 Savings Plans
- Many states, including Indiana offer tax incentives for investing in a 529 plan. Indiana offers a 20% credit on up to $5,000 of contributions. Indiana requires the funds to be deposited by 12/31/2020 to be able to claim the credit in 2020.