What the combined thinking of the President-to-be (after he gets into office) and the Legislative branches (after they are seated and get done maneuvering and trading off) will be about the income tax is a project of pure speculation…but… if it will result in lower income taxes for those with higher income than they are now enjoying (as it appears to be aimed at doing so) then what can be said about taking advantage of that possibility in a way that will not do serious harm if we guess wrong and may do some real good if we guess correctly? Let us assume that income tax rates next year and into the near term will be lower than they are this year, then deferring income from this year to next year makes sense…if you can, and that is a big "if". It is probably not the case for individuals working in professions or businesses that have to clear out profits in the form of wages paid or the entities will be subject to unnecessary taxation. On the other hand, the timing of the realization of gains on sales can be manipulated to push the gains into the future.
On the other end of the teeter-totter are deductions. If one is charitably inclined one should seriously consider making charitable contributions this year that you might otherwise have thought you would make next year. The deductions will have a greater affect if they are used to offset income that will be taxed at a higher rate this year.
You are urged to have a little conference with your customary tax return preparer to have the numbers run on what differences (if any) either strategy will make. Like everything else that involves taxes, crunching numbers produces real answers not guesses.
John A. Scott December 2016
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