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As we inch toward April 18th, it’s a good time to remember the essentials of a tax return review. Whether you prepare them yourself or work with an accountant, reviewing last year’s returns is a great idea to help ensure you implement planning opportunities early in 2023.


Here are two very helpful checklists I’m looking at for my client families to help them make sense of their returns:


Whether you are working or retired, these checklists are excellent resources to cross-reference your completed return. Here are some of the highlights:

Family and Filing Issues
  • Itemized vs. standard deductions
    • If you were close to going over the standard deduction, does it make sense to bunch charitable contributions this year?
  • Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
    • If you were subject to AMT, how can we minimize it in 2023?
  • Taxes owed/return (Form 1040, line 34/37)
    • Did you owe more tax or receive a higher refund than anticipated? Maybe we need to make some adjustments to your withholdings.
Investment Income Issues
  • Interest or dividends (Form 1040 lines 2a/b and 3a/b)
    • Are these used as part of your income plan? If not, let’s explore options to mitigate.
  • Capital gains and losses (Form 1040 line 7)
    • Are these a result of distributions for income replacement? If not, let’s explore options to mitigate.
  • Additional Medicare Tax (Form 8959)
    • If you earned over $200,000 (single) or $250,000 (married filing jointly), you might be subject to an additional Medicare tax of 0.9%. Is there any planning we can do for 2023 to keep you outside this income range?
Retirement Plan Issues
  • Are you subject to a required minimum distribution (RMD)?
    • RMDs must be distributed by yearend, except for their first year, where there’s flexibility to explore.
  • Did you make a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) last year?
    • If so, ensure it was properly reflected on 1040 line 4b. The 1099 distributed from your custodian doesn’t articulate what was distributed for a QCD. That typically has to be reported/documented separately.
  • Did you complete a Roth conversion?
    • If so, check form 8606 to ensure the conversion was reported correctly, particularly if some portion of the amount was from a non-deductible IRA contribution.
Other Issues
  • Did you have large medical expenses?
    • If so, review schedule A, line 1, to determine the deduction limit. (Remember, this includes Medicare and long-term care premiums.)
  • Do you own rental real estate?
    • If so, review schedule E to ensure you deducted all appropriate expenses.

Whether with your CPA, financial planner, or by yourself over a cup of coffee, I encourage you to set aside some time for a tax return review. While I am not a CPA, I work with my client families to review their tax picture to proactively take steps to improve the year ahead, often in collaboration with their accountant. I welcome a conversation about what taxes look like for you and the unique opportunities and challenges to address.