Today of course is National Tax Day, the last day to file your income tax returns.  This also marks the first filing that the changes from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act come into effect.  Were you surprised by a large tax bill or smaller return than normal this year?  If so, the time is now to prepare for your 2019 tax filing.   Here are 3 strategies you may be able to implement now, that could help lower your tax burden next year.


  1. Contribute to an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). 

The IRS increased contribution limits in 2019 to $6000 with a $1000 additional “catch-up” contribution if you are over age 50.  If you are eligible to make a contribution to a Traditional IRA that is a dollar for dollar reduction in your adjusted gross income.  If you are married that’s up to $14,000 you could be shaving from your taxable income.

You have up until April 15th of 2020 to make 2019 contributions.  However, why wait until filing day and scramble to come up with that chunk of change?  Start an IRA now and set up weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly contributions into the account.  We can set up recurring contributions with as little as $25.  Remember any dollar amount will reduce that adjusted gross income.  Would you rather have that money in your back pocket for retirement or give it to Uncle Sam today?


  1. Contribute to an HSA (Health Savings Account).

If you have a high deductible healthcare plan, either through an employer or that you purchased on your own through the exchange, you are eligible to open an HSA.  A high deductible health plan is defined by the IRS as having an annual deductible of $1350 or more for individual coverage or $2700 deductible for family coverage.

The IRS also increased contribution limits to HSA’s in 2019 to $3500 for individual coverage or $7000 if you have family coverage.   HSA contributions, like IRA contributions are deductible from your adjusted gross income.  The interest earned on the accounts also accumulates tax free, and distributions including any interest earned are tax free if used to pay qualified medical expenses.  See IRS Publication 502 for medical and dental expenses.

A huge benefit of the HSA is that it is not a use it or lose it plan.  Any unused balances at the end of each year continue to roll over to the next year.  If you are relatively healthy now this gives you the potential to accumulate a large tax free lump sum to use for medical expenses in retirement.  Would you rather pay medical expenses with tax free dollars or hand some more cash over to Uncle Sam?

Visit to view their current rates on HSA accounts and contact Kate Criss at 607-324-1822 to get started!


  1. Over age 70 ½? Donate that RMD(Required Minimum Distribution)!

If you are over age 70 ½  you should know that the IRS requires that once a person turns 70 ½ they begin taking minimum distributions from their retirement accounts (with the exception of a Roth IRA).  This is calculated by dividing the balance of each account on December 31st of the prior year by a life expectancy factor the IRS publishes on one of three tables.  (See IRS Publication 590-B)

Did you need that money this year?  Did that additional income on your 1040 shoot you into a higher tax bracket or move more of your social security over into taxable land?  Did you lose the ability to itemize deductions this year with the new tax laws but still make charitable contributions?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes I have one more question:  Did you know that the IRS allows you to distribute your RMD as a Qualified Charitable Distribution which allows you to exclude that distribution from you taxable income?  In order to do so the charity must be qualified (you can confirm this directly with them) and you must either have the check sent directly to the charity or if you would rather deliver the check yourself, have it made payable to the charity and sent to you.  Would you rather give your money to a charity near and dear to your heart or to Uncle Sam?!


I should say that I love my country but when it comes to my hard earned money I would rather use it the way I want.  Use the tax law to your benefit!

Contact me if I can help you get your planning started for next year.  Don’t wait until next April 15th!


Happy (or not so Happy?) Tax Day!