If you’re like a majority of Americans, you may be looking for new, creative ways to ease your annual tax burden. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to cut your taxes or increase the amount of your tax refund without incurring the wrath of the IRS.
Tax credits and allowable deductions come and go as the IRS changes its rules and regulations almost on a yearly basis. However, there are lots of ways to trim your taxes that are likely to remain applicable for a while.
1. Contribute to a 401k or IRA
Your tax due is based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI. The higher your AGI, the more you owe in taxes to the government. Critical word here is “adjusted,” which refers to the fact that you can reduce this all-important total in a coupleof ways – one method is to deposit pre-tax contributions into a 401k or other tax-deductible retirement account, such as an IRA.
The more you contribute to your 401k, the more you can reduce your AGI and the amount you owe in taxes. In 2016, the maximum IRA and 401k contribution limits are 5,500 and $18,000 respectively for anyone 49 years of age and under. Anyone 50 and older can add an additional $1,000 to the IRA limit and an additional $6,000 to the 401k limit.
And while that money are well-preserved in your regular retirement account and hopefully growing every year, you don’t need to pay capital gains tax on it either. You do have to pay income tax on the funds when you withdraw them, but you may be in a lower income tax bracket when you retire, and therefore pay a lower tax rate on the withdrawn funds than you would now.