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Your Annual Financial To-Do List


Things you can do before and in preparation for 2017.


What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for 2017? Now is a good time to think about the investing, saving, or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives. Some year-end financial moves may help you pursue those goals as well.


As casual and arbitrary as these decisions may be, they are remarkably like the decisions many investors make in the financial markets.


What can you do to lower your 2017 taxes?

Before the year fades away, you have plenty of options. Here are a few that may prove convenient:


1.) Make a charitable gift before New Year's Day: You can claim the deduction on your 2016 return, provided you itemize your 2016 deductions with Schedule A. The paper trail is important here. (1)


If you give cash, you need to document it. Even small contributions need to be demonstrated by a bank record, payroll deduction record, credit card statement, or written communication from the charity with the date and amount. Incidentally, the IRS does not equate a pledge with a donation. If you pledge $2,000 to a charity in December, but only end up gifting $500 before 2016 ends, you can only deduct $500. (1)


Are you gifting appreciated securities? If you have owned them for more than a year, you will be in line to take a deduction for 100% of their fair market value, and avoid capital gains tax that would have resulted from simply selling the investment and then donating the proceeds. (Of course, if your investment is a loser, it might be better to sell it and donate the money, so you can claim a loss on the sale and deduct a charitable contribution equal to the proceeds.) (2)


Does the value of your gift exceed $250? It may, and if you gift that amount or larger to a qualified charitable organization, you will need a receipt or a detailed verification form from the charity. You also have to file Form 8283 when your total deduction for non-cash contributions or property exceeds $500 in a year. (1,2)