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Year-End Planning Checklist

Simple but Helpful Moves You Can Make Now

Keeping things simple is often the best strategy for your tax and financial planning.

That's especially true in a year like this, where tax law changes have been minimal and the market has – at least for the first half of the year – provided a nice boost to portfolios.

But "simple" doesn't mean "inactive." Here are few things everyone should consider over the final few months of the year.

REVIEW YOUR GAINS AND LOSSES While positive markets are great for your bottom line, they come with a cost – having to pay taxes. If you've realized gains this year, losses lurking in your account can be used to reduce that tax cost while giving you a chance to reallocate to new investments.

MONITOR ASSET ALLOCATION Speaking of reallocating, it's a good idea to revisit your portfolio allocation. Markets like we've seen in early 2019 can cause portfolios to become unbalanced quickly, perhaps leaving you with a riskier portfolio than you might realize.

CHARITABLE PLANNING New tax laws changed the way we look at charitable giving. Now giving needs to be approached with a multi-year strategy and should consider things like bunching, donor-advised funds or gifts from an IRA.

CHECK YOUR WITHHOLDING Many taxpayers were surprised to find they owed money when they filed their 2018 tax return, rather than getting their usual refund. That surprise can be avoided by running a simple tax projection, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be to make adjustments to withholding.

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