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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Fradenburg, AIF®, CDFA®

5 Strategic Financial Moves Post-Tax Season

The moment you submit your tax return might feel like the end of a financial chapter, but it's actually the perfect starting point for making strategic decisions that can enhance your financial well-being. As the dust settles on this tax season, consider these five essential tips to leverage your current tax situation into a springboard for future financial growth.

1. Adjust Your Tax Withholdings

One of the most immediate actions you can take post-filing is to reassess your tax withholdings, especially if you faced an unexpected bill or received a large refund. Both scenarios indicate a mismatch between what was withheld from your paycheck and your actual tax liability. Adjusting your withholdings can improve your monthly cash flow, allowing for more accurate budgeting and preventing the IRS from holding onto more of your money throughout the year than necessary.

2. Max Out Your Retirement Contributions

With your tax situation fresh in mind, it's an opportune time to evaluate your retirement savings strategy. If you're not already contributing the maximum allowed to your retirement accounts, consider increasing your contributions. Whether it's a 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA, these accounts offer significant tax advantages, and maximizing your contributions can reduce your taxable income while bolstering your retirement nest egg.

3. Leverage Tax-Advantaged Accounts

Beyond retirement accounts, other tax-advantaged accounts, such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and 529 college savings plans, offer opportunities to save money in a tax-efficient manner. Contributions to these accounts can provide immediate tax deductions or credits, grow tax-free, and be withdrawn tax-free for qualified expenses. Utilizing these accounts fully can be a cornerstone of a savvy financial plan.

4. Embrace Tax Loss Harvesting

For investors with taxable accounts, tax loss harvesting is a strategy that involves selling investments at a loss to offset capital gains taxes. While it may seem counterintuitive to sell assets at a loss, strategically doing so can lower your tax bill and reinvest the proceeds in a way that positions your portfolio for potential future growth. This strategy requires careful consideration and timing, making the post-tax season an ideal time for evaluation.

5. Optimize Your Tax Refund

Finally, if you're receiving a tax refund, resist the temptation to view it as a windfall. Instead, consider using it to pay down high-interest debt or bolster your emergency fund. Both moves can provide a solid return on your investment by saving you on interest payments or providing a financial buffer in case of unexpected expenses.

Closing Reflections

The period following tax filing should not be a passive time. Instead, it's a golden opportunity to make adjustments and decisions that can significantly impact your financial future. By taking stock of your tax situation, adjusting withholdings, maximizing contributions to retirement and other tax-advantaged accounts, employing strategies like tax loss harvesting, and wisely allocating any refund, you can set the stage for improved financial health and prosperity. Remember, the best time to plan for the next tax season—and your future—is now.

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