BOSTON (TheStreet -- As 2009 draws to a close, a few last-minute financial moves could cut your tax bill, shore-up your retirement savings and boost your investments.
"Most taxpayers don't start thinking about taxes until after the New Year," says Mark Steber, chief tax officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service (JTX). "The truth is, simple steps taken in these final weeks of 2009 can put them in a better position when it comes time to file."
Among the well-publicized provisos made available in 2009 were the $8,000 credit for first-time homebuyers and the Making Work Pay credit. Other popular tax benefits were also expanded, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and deductions for related to energy-saving home improvements.
Medical costs can be defrayed through taxes, but to qualify, expenses must add up to 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. "If you are borderline to meeting the necessary threshold, consider expediting some medical expenses for the following year," Steber says.Bridge the gap by moving any doctor and dentist appointments scheduled for early next year to December. If you're self employed, health insurance premiums are considered paid in the year they are charged to your credit card. If your cash flow allows, consider paying premiums for the following year up front. "If you are not vulnerable to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), consider paying your fourth-quarter 2009 estimated state income taxes, plus any estimated balance due, by Dec. 31 so you can take the deduction on your 2009 taxes," says Rande Spiegelman, vice president of financial planning at Charles Schwab's (SCHW ) Center for Financial Research. "[You can also] prepay property taxes. Many counties bill taxpayers twice, in November and February. If you pay your February installment by Dec. 31, you can take it as a deduction on your 2009 return. Again, watch out for the AMT, which disallows these deductions."
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV