When it comes to minimizing taxes, most people focus their efforts on maximizing deductions. They look for opportunities to reduce their taxable income by taking advantage of tax laws that allow a wide variety of expenses to be claimed as costs of doing business. This technique is a critical component of your comprehensive tax strategy, but it isn’t the only opportunity to bring your tax bill down. Think bigger, by looking for ways to shift current income or generate new income that enjoys favorable tax treatment.
Your Certified Tax Coach is an expert at thinking outside the tax box to reduce your tax liability. You can partner with these professionals to identify methods of creating tax-deferred or tax-free income to grow your wealth more quickly.
The Trouble with Traditional Investment Income
Average taxpayers rely on traditional financial products for saving and investing. Examples include standard savings and money market accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), mutual funds, and brokerage accounts. The problem is that income earned from interest, dividends, and increased share value is subject to fairly high tax rates. Certainly, these options play an important role in your financial plan, but there is no need to rely on them exclusively. Instead, maximize use of tax-deferred and tax-free programs to reduce your total tax liability.
Options for Tax-Deferred Income
It’s no secret that it is getting harder to achieve the retirement lifestyle you want. Setting money aside to ensure you can enjoy the years after you leave the workforce is a top priority. The good news is that there are retirement savings programs specifically designed to make this goal more achievable. They offer an opportunity to earn tax-deferred or tax-free income, which lowers the total amount you hand over to the IRS.
Traditional IRAs, certain employer-sponsored retirement programs, and specific types of annuities enjoy tax-deferred status. Essentially, you contribute a portion of your current income on a pre-tax basis. You don’t pay income taxes on that amount today. Instead, taxes are assessed when you eventually take distributions.
This benefits you in two ways. First, your money stays with you longer, so you can generate interest on funds that would otherwise be lost to tax. Second, most people find themselves in lower tax brackets after retirement. That means you pay less later than you would if you paid today.
The Tax-Free Alternative
If your goal is to generate income that is completely free from taxes, you have options. Certain types of life insurance, specific annuities, and retirement savings plans like the Roth IRA make it possible to eliminate taxes on a portion of your income. Unlike tax-deferred plans, your contributions to these types of programs are made from after-tax dollars. In other words, you pay income tax on the funds you set aside in these accounts in the same year that income is earned. However, once you have paid that initial income tax, you don’t owe another penny. Any increase in value from interest, dividends, and similar is completely tax-free.
The bottom line is that minimizing taxes is more than finding deductible expenses. You can drive your tax bill down by incorporating a variety of techniques into your overall strategy. Shifting income or creating new income that enjoys favorable tax treatment is another tool you can use to reduce taxes and grow your wealth.
Learn more about transitioning to tax-advantaged income by working with a Certified Tax Coach.