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Is There Time to Save on Taxes Before the New Year?Aired December 22, 2000 - 2:38 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're all waiting for Santa, but can the tax man be far behind? How dare we bring up that at the holidays? Well, we're going to because now is the tax time to make the tax man squirm; take action to minimize your April bills. Susanne Tucker Plybon is a tax attorney and CPA. And thank you for talking to us today.
SUZANNE TUCKER PLYBON, TAX ATTORNEY: Thank you.
ALLEN: There's not much time left in the year, but you're here to tell us you can still be smart with the few days left. Is that right?
PLYBON: That's right. That's right. Certainly, there are a lot of considerations that you need to look at in terms of tax planning. You can look at a estate planning as well as income tax planning ideas in the next few days, and while not every technique is going to work for every person -- it's very factual dependent -- there's still time to a few things.
ALLEN: All right, let's talk about deductions, first of all, that people can do here in the last few days to help with their taxes next year. What can you tell us.
PLYBON: OK. First of all, you need to keep in mind that when you're looking at income tax planning, it's a matter of matching your income tax levels with your deduction levels. In other words, if you're going to have very high income this year, but don't anticipate that your income will be as high next year, you might want to go ahead and try to take some the deductions this year instead of next year.
And what that would mean is you might look at some items that you would be paying in the next few weeks and if you need some additional deductions for income tax purposes, go ahead and pay those now. For example, you might prepay your January mortgage if you can afford to and if it makes sense and you need the deduction.
You might look at charitable contributions if you need a deduction this year. If you were going to make contributions to the charity, maybe now is the time to do it instead of waiting until January. You can do it either with highly appreciated publicly-traded securities, which can be very beneficial, or you could make cash contributions. If you were going to deduct items of clothing, for example, you might go ahead and go to your local charity in the next 10 days or nine days, actually, instead of waiting until January to get that deduction.
ALLEN: It's so nice to hear someone talking about how to save money in this period when we're all spending way too much money.
PLYBON: That's right.
ALLEN: You have also talked about medical expenses and how that can be important to watch so far as what you can write-off there.
PLYBON: That's right. That's -- that's very factual dependent. In other words, in taking deductions, trying to go ahead and pay some medical expenses that maybe you were holding and you weren't going to pay until next year, might make sense for some individuals while it might not make sense for others.
In other words, there are some limitations as to how much you can deduct. You can only deduct them in excess of a certain amount of adjusted gross income. But if you are in the right -- if you are the right kind of tax payer, in other words, you have the right kind of income tax mix, the right kind of deductions and your income is such that it's not so large that trying to make the deduction wouldn't work, then maybe you'd want to go ahead and prepay some of those medical expenses, and I would suggest just sitting down and running the calculations and maybe calling your tax adviser and getting some assistance with that.
ALLEN: And let's talk about the gift and estate planning. There is the gift tax to think about, so, this is the season. So, how can you help people out there?
PLYBON: That's right, and that's a great question. A lot of times people who are quite wealthy want to minimize their estate taxes ultimately when they pass away, and what they'll do, they'll embark on an annual gifting program to, for example, their children or grandchildren or maybe even nieces and nephews, and what that allows you to do is to make gifts to those individuals every year.
You can deduct this year or excuse me -- you can make payments -- make gifts, actually, this year up to $10,000 per child or $20,000 if your spouse consents to gift split with you, and there is still time to do that. And it's a great thing do every year. It really over the long term can be an excellent estate planning tool.
ALLEN: I'm sure that the children like hearing that, too.
PLYBON: That's right.
ALLEN: Those who may be the recipients of such a generous gift. Thank you so much, Susan Plybon.
PLYBON: Thank you.
ALLEN: Thank you for giving us those.
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