Federal Tax News for Individuals

Making Cash Gifts in 2023 and 2024

This holiday season, you may want to make cash gifts to loved ones. The annual gift tax exclusion for 2023 is $17,000 ($34,000 for married couples). You can give up to that amount to an unlimited number of people by Dec. 31, and the gifts will be exempt from gift tax, the generation-skipping tax and filing obligations. You can't "carry over" tax-exempt gifts from year to year, but there may be strategies for making larger gifts.

Suppose, for example, you and your spouse want to help your daughter buy a house, you can give her $34,000 on Dec. 31. Then on Jan. 1, you can give an equal or higher amount, when 2024's gift tax exclusion is projected to be $18,000 ($36,000 for married couples).

How Life Affects Taxes

Major life changes can greatly affect your tax situation. This is especially true if you get married or divorced. If one of these events happened to you, be sure to address it with your tax advisor as part of your year-end tax planning. Indeed, your marital status for the entire year is determined as of Dec. 31. If you're married (or divorced) as of the end of the year, the IRS will treat this as if you were married (or single) all year long. This can affect your tax filing status this year and next. Also, if you're in the process of divorcing, factor in any tax implications involved in property settlements, alimony and retirement plans. Contact us for other year-end tax considerations.

Last Chance to Minimize Your 2023 Tax Bill

Year-end tax planning season in here. The up-and-down financial markets this year may provide you the opportunity to harvest your losses. This tried-and-true tax strategy may be an option if you've realized adjusted net capital gains and are now facing a high tax bill as a result. To soften the tax blow, review your portfolio to see if there are any securities you can sell at a loss to offset the gains. If you end up with a net capital loss, you can use it to offset up to $3,000 in ordinary income. However, beware of the wash sale rule. It bans the deduction of a loss when you acquire "substantially identical" investments within 30 days, before or after, of the sale date.

Appointing Someone to Handle Your Tax Matters

If the IRS wants to talk to you about a specific tax matter, you can authorize a third-party to handle it on your behalf. But whether it's an unpaid friend or relative or a paid tax pro, you must grant them formal permission. That can take several forms, such as:

  • Assigning your power of attorney to a person who is authorized to practice before the IRS.
  • You can appoint an individual using a Tax Information Authorization Form 8821for a specific tax issue.
  • You can also name a third-party designee on your tax return when you file it, to discuss that return only, and
  • You can give oral permission for someone to join you in a meeting or in a call with the IRS.
    Contact us if you have questions at 330-453-7633.

2024 Social Security Figures

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that for 2024 the maximum earnings subject to Social Security tax will increase $8,400, from $160,200 to $168,600. The $168,600 wage base for 2024 is slightly greater than the wage base forecasted by the SSA's Office of the Chief Actuary back in April.

In addition, the SSA announced that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits will increase by 3.2%. These changes reflect cost-of-living adjustments to account for inflation. On average, Social Security retirement benefits will increase by more than $50 per month starting in late Dec. or early Jan. for nearly 71 million recipients, according to the SSA.

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