If you're smart about your money, you've probably already started thinking about what you can do before the year ends to reduce your tax bill. There are lots of changes awaiting taxpayers April 15 thanks to the Affordable Care Act and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, not much of it good.
First things, first. If you have a large portfolio or earnings above $200,000, now is the time to run a simulation of what your taxes may look like for next year. That way, you can at least get a sense of what you'll be on the hook for come April 15, 2014.
Next, if you're expecting a bonus or year-end income that will push you into a higher bracket, consider deferring that money into next year. Hold off selling assets that will produce a capital gain. If you're self-employed, don't send out invoices for year-end jobs until early next year. Keep in mind, high earners are facing a new top tax bracket of 39.6 percent on taxable income of $400,000 for single earners and $450,000 for married couples.
Even if you aren't in the top tax bracket, it makes sense to salt more money into your 401(k). That will reduce your income reported to the IRS since most plan contributions are made before taxes are taken out. Remember if you are 50 or older, you can put in an extra $5,500 over the $17,500 limit.
Now is also a good time to review the limits on your flexible spending accounts. Under Obamacare, the limit on the amount you can set aside pretax was set at $2,500. (Before the ACA, there was no statutory limit on contributions.) Some companies allow a grace period to use untouched FSA funds, but not all. Plus, the Treasury recently announced changes to the use-it-or-lose-it rule. Now, account holders can carry over up to $500 in excess money into the next benefit year, as long as your company adopts that plan.
Also important to consider: The chances of mutual funds passing on long-term capital gains distributions are high. Fund companies release estimates of distributions this month. If you're planning on selling a fund, do it before distributions.
Now is also the time of year to consider charitable contributions. Make sure your contributions go to an eligible 501C3 organization so that you can take the deduction.