Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Searching the Tax Code for Upsides to a Downturn

From NYTimes.com:

It’s the time of year when personal finance writers offer suggestions on end-of-the-year tax planning. The problem this year is that there are so many unknowns. Are tax increases in the works? Will you keep your job next year? Will your income drop? And what about all those terrible investment losses?

Even some tax experts are scratching their heads.

The biggest question is whether Barack Obama will go ahead with his plans to increase income and capital gains taxes on affluent families — those making $250,000 a year or more — soon after he becomes president. With the economy in such trouble, he may decide it’s better to delay any action.

“It is unlike any other year,” said Rich Kohan, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Everything is a struggle this year because of the uncertainty of the economy and the uncertainty of tax rates.”

One thing is certain: It was a dreadful year for investors. And while this will probably come as cold comfort for most people, your investment losses will serve up certain tax benefits. It’s worth spending some time now, before the end of the year, to be sure you are maximizing any opportunities to trim your tax bill.

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