As we enter the final months of 2021, it’s time to start giving serious thought to year-end planning. Exploring the following five ideas with your clients now will give you ample time take appropriate steps for their goals and circumstances.
Plus, when you have the conversations today, you and your clients will both have more time to relax and enjoy the upcoming holiday season knowing that you’ve already addressed this important annual topic.
1. Add to an IRA
Remind your clients to fully fund their IRAs. As you know, they actually have until April 15, 2022 to contribute to their IRAs for the 2021 tax year, but you might point out to them that the sooner the money is in their accounts, the faster it will start working for them. The 2021 IRA contribution limit is $6,000 with an additional $1,000 catch up amount for individuals age 50 and older.
2. Boost 401(k) contributions
Many companies allow employees to increase their 401(k) contributions outside the open enrollment period. Let your clients know that if they do bump up their contributions for the rest of the year, they’ll lower their taxable income and add to their retirement savings. At the very least, encourage them to put away enough to earn the employer’s matching contribution in the future. The 2021 401(k) contribution limit is $19,500 with an additional $6,500 catch up amount for individuals age 50 and older.
3. Fund education savings account
Remind those of your clients with young children, or grandchildren, about the benefits of a 529 college savings plan (i.e. tax-free withdrawals for qualified education expenses, possible state tax deductions, total control of assets until used by beneficiary, etc.). If your high net worth clients haven’t yet reached the 529 gift tax exclusion of $15,000 per recipient ($30,000 for married couples filing jointly), they’ve got until December 31, 2021 to do so.
4. Delay purchasing mutual fund shares
Some of your clients may not be aware that many mutual funds pay capital gains distributions in December. You might want to inform them that if they were to buy new shares of a fund just before the distribution date, they may get a larger distribution, but they’ll owe capital gains taxes on the money they just invested without really having received much benefit from their investment. To avoid this potential problem, clients may want to delay making additional investments until after the distribution date.
5. Consider selling “losers”
Clients might want to consider selling investments that have lost value and are no longer needed for portfolio balance. You could remind these clients that their losses can offset any capital gains they might have achieved; if they don’t have any gains, the losses can offset up to $3,000 of their regular income. Plus, any losses that they don’t use in a given year can be carried forward indefinitely for use against future capital gains. Of course, if clients still liked the investment that they sold at a loss, and they wanted to keep it in their portfolio, they could repurchase it, but they’ll have to wait 31 days to avoid violating “wash sale” tax rules.
Demonstrate your value as a financial professional to your clients
These are a small sample of topics you may want to explore with your clients. RBC Clearing & Custody provides a more comprehensive checklist to help facilitate productive year-end professional-client planning conversations. Our goal is to help the professionals we support—as well as their clients—finish out the year on a positive financial note.