Moves to make to maximize your tax money-back before the New Year

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Although a new tax code on the books is set for 2018, there are some things tax professionals recommend you do before the New Year. Signed into law last week, President Donald Trump calls it a 'Christmas gift.' But before these changes take effect, there are a few things you can do in the final days of 2017 to save money.

Some tax experts include giving to charity as part of that.

"Listen, we've had lots of phone calls, and we've called and talked to lots of people about what they need to do in 2017 as opposed to 2018," Certified Public Accountant Ronny Burkett said.

Burkett makes it his business to know new tax law, the major reform that passed, and so he's advising his clients to do several things before the New Year, including:

  • Make any charitable donations.
  • Pay ahead on any state or local property tax
  • Delay any income possible

That's because there will be a higher standard deduction instead of personal exemptions—like for property tax and charitable giving.

"Go ahead and make as many contributions as you can this year if you feel like you want to pay $1,000 additional to a church or something, go ahead and do that in 2017," Burkett said.

Brad Majors, with Goodwill, said experts estimate there will be a $13 billion impact to charities across the country because of this. However, Majors doesn't feel it will hit Goodwill's donations.

"Our donors give things like clothing and household items they no longer need and appreciate that those unneeded items can benefit others in the community," Majors said. "In terms of financial donations, while some estimate a $13 billion decrease in philanthropic giving, most people give from the heart so that others' quality of life can be improved. I think many people will give regardless of whether they itemize or not. They just want to help others."

Burkett said there will be some state and local property tax write-off change, too, on things like house and car.

"We know now that beginning in 2018, you can only have- you can only $10,000 in state and local taxes," Burkett said. "So, if you've got additional state income tax that you owe, go ahead and pay it before the end of the year."

However, there is some good news, he adds; the income tax rate will decrease, and standard deductions will nearly double.

"The income tax rates may be going down for you in 2018 as opposed to 2017, so you may want to delay income to 2018," Burkett said.

Without as many itemized deductions, some may not need the service of tax preparer as much.

"We will continue to do some of those returns, but some folks may not need to be filing a long form, it may need to be a much simpler return so they may be able to file their own returns going forward," he said.

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