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Year-end Planning Checklist - Holiday Edition

With the onset of November comes the realization that we are quickly closing in on year's end. This brings with it the nagging feeling that there is a lot to do and that things will only get busier from here on out. If you aren't already checking your list (maybe twice), now is the time to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks as the Holidays sneak up on us. Here are a few items to put on your to do list that will help ensure a great start to 2020:

1. Open enrollment period - Review your benefits and make necessary changes to health plans, withholding elections for taxes and retirement plans, HSAs, FSAs, etc. for the coming year. Don't let inertia take control. Act now to make sure your are optimizing your elections as the window will be closing soon. 

2. If over the age of 70.5, review your RMDs for the year to ensure you have taken out your minimum requirement. Penalties for not taking out the required minimum amount from your retirement accounts are very harsh and are easily avoided with a little work. 

3. Review your taxable investment accounts for tax loss harvesting opportunities.  There is no reason to let a good loss go to waste, especially since strong market performance in 2019 will likely lead to large capital gains distributions from your equity mutual funds. Tax savings today can pay big dividends in the future. 

4. Contact your CPA to conduct a tax projection for your 2019 taxes. Make sure you are doing all you can to minimize your tax liabilities for the year and that you are withholding properly.  No need to pay penalties for falling short with a little bit of planning. Also, there is no need to give Uncle Sam an interest free loan if we can help it. 

4.5.  Set aside dedicated time to review and decide upon your charitable giving plans. This will reduce the pressure that comes with waiting until December 31st to finalize your plans. This may also be a great time to convene a family meeting to help instill an ethos of giving in your kids. Let them help decide which organizations to support and why, reinforcing the spirit of giving during the Holidays. Also, consult with your CPA to determine if giving directly from retirement accounts may be a good option for you.

5. Enjoy time off with your family and friends. The Holidays should be a time of fun and rejuvenation as we take stock of the year that has passed and spend quality time with our loved ones.