Last-minute tax planning can help

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 26, 2010

This year is almost over and I thought I would share a few last-minute tax planning ideas with you.

If you have a Health Savings Account or flex spending account buy over-the-counter drugs before Dec. 31.

After 2010 HSAs and flex accounts will not reimburse you for the cost of over-the-counter drugs you purchase.

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Mail checks for deductible items before Dec. 31. You may take the deduction even if the check doesn’t clear until January 2011.

If you itemize deductions a few things you may want to pay before Dec. 31 are charitable contributions, real estate taxes and state estimated income taxes.

If you pay your January mortgage payment on your residence or second home prior to Dec. 31 the interest portion of the payment may increase the mortgage interest that is deductible as an itemized deduction.

Be aware of the deadlines for contributions to IRAs, retirement plans and Coverdells. The deadline for establishing an IRA is April 18. That is also the deadline for making contributions to the IRA for 2010.

This deadline is not extended even if you file for an automatic extension to file your individual tax return. Contributions to non-deductible IRAs, Roth IRAs and Coverdell education accounts are also due by April 18, 2011. Generally employer plans must be established by December 31 to get a 2010 deduction.

The deadline for SEPs is the due date of your return including extensions. So if you are self-employed you may establish a SEP-IRA and make payments to the SEP until the date your extension expires.

This gives a self-employed individual an opportunity to establish a plan and make 2010 deductible payments to the plan until Oct. 17.

Remember that estimated tax payments for the fourth quarter of 2010 are due on Jan. 17.

The filing deadline for 2010 individual tax returns is April 18. Do yourself a favor and in January start gathering the information needed to file your 2010 return.

By the end of January or very early in February you should receive W-2’s, Forms 1099 for interest, dividend, royalty, rent and miscellaneous income and Forms 1098 for mortgage interest paid. Brokerage company Forms 1099 should be received in mid-February.

If you are receiving Social Security benefits, be on the lookout for an SSA-1099 from Social Security Administration that you should receive sometime in January.

It is advisable to consult with your CPA for tax advice that is tailored to your specific needs.

Happy New Year!

Susan L. Mange is a certified public accountant at Silas Simmons, LLP in Natchez.