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High W-2 earnings are killing our taxes
Old 02-14-2015, 12:43 PM   #1
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High W-2 earnings are killing our taxes

Boo hoo for us, right?

Wages 347k + interest/dividends/CG 25k = AGI 372k
- itemized deductions: 24k - exemptions: 4k = 344k taxable income
Tax: 86k + AMT 1k + additional medicare tax 1k + net investment tax 1k
Total federal tax: 89k

We already max our 401ks, and our deductions are being phased out so more donations doesn't help. Having a kid this year also isn't likely to help much as that exemption is phased out for us too.
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Old 02-14-2015, 12:45 PM   #2
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Old 02-14-2015, 01:14 PM   #3
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Well, that's an effective rate of ~ 24% on your AGI.

People will have different takes on whether that's high/low/indifferent (and the thread will probably get shut down if we go there), but it's not a number that sound extraordinary to me, for that income level.

If it makes you feel any better, you could add in your property tax, SS and Medicare, sales tax, gas tax..... feel better now? No?

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Old 02-14-2015, 01:25 PM   #4
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I never minded having been phased out of the various tax credits for making too much. It means my financial life is going well.
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Old 02-14-2015, 01:29 PM   #5
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not sure there is a lot you can do. Quite far out of my league. would you're employer work with you to do deferred comp? Some risks there.

Being in AMT land... many of the typical things don't work. maybe more muni bond investments that are GO (no private activity).

It is a nice problem to have... compared to many others that you could have.
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Old 02-14-2015, 01:33 PM   #6
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Charitable Donor-advised Fund! You can contribute some of those higher tax dollars now (or appreciated securities), and let most of it build for donating when you are retired.

The tax limit on charitable donations is limited for regular tax, but you get the limitation back when computing AMT.

HSAs if you are eligible, but if you have an insurance plan with copays you won't be.
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Old 02-14-2015, 01:36 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by soupcxan View Post
Boo hoo for us, right?

Wages 347k + interest/dividends/CG 25k = AGI 372k
- itemized deductions: 24k - exemptions: 4k = 344k taxable income
Tax: 86k + AMT 1k + additional medicare tax 1k + net investment tax 1k
Total federal tax: 89k


We already max our 401ks, and our deductions are being phased out so more donations doesn't help. Having a kid this year also isn't likely to help much as that exemption is phased out for us too.
As others note, it all depends upon how you look at it. DW used to pay about that amount, then I went back to work..... Looking forward to the days when our "all other spending" exceeds taxes again. Not fun, but each of my siblings makes far less money than we pay in taxes; puts it in perspective if I ever were to get upset about it.
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Old 02-14-2015, 01:38 PM   #8
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As others note, it all depends upon how you look at it. DW used to pay about that amount, then I went back to work..... Looking forward to the days when our "all other spending" exceeds taxes again. Not fun, but each of my siblings makes far less money than we pay in taxes; puts it in perspective if I ever were to get upset about it.
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Old 02-14-2015, 01:52 PM   #9
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Charitable Donor-advised Fund! You can contribute some of those higher tax dollars now (or appreciated securities), and let most of it build for donating when you are retired.
Since you do not get a tax deduction for letting it build in the DAF, I think money put in a DAF should be granted to charities right away. Otherwise, let it build in your own accounts and get a bigger tax deduction when you finally do donate.
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Old 02-14-2015, 02:13 PM   #10
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Since you do not get a tax deduction for letting it build in the DAF, I think money put in a DAF should be granted to charities right away. Otherwise, let it build in your own accounts and get a bigger tax deduction when you finally do donate.
Depends on your situation. What you say makes sense if you regularly itemize, or if you make a single massive "dump" of donations one year and nothing in other years.

In our situation, we regularly give, but in a typical year since we live in a state with no income tax, we don't currently own property and have no mortgage, we usually take the standard deduction so our charitable contributions (averaging maybe $4-5K a year) do exactly bupkis for our taxes.

So we're looking at one of these, perhaps dumping $20-25K in at a time, so we can get a nice writeoff one year, and take the standard deduction for 3-4 years while we replenish our accounts to deposit another $20-25K chunk. The current alternative is donating $4-5K a year and getting no tax relief whatsoever. I'm looking at the nuances of tax law to see what we can do and how much we can deduct in a single tax year. We may do it this year -- we've talked about it in the past but we're in a position now where it seems like a better idea. This may be even more important for us because if all goes as planned, DW will be ordained this July and will change from a W-2 employee to being self-employed and having to pay self-employment tax.
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Old 02-14-2015, 02:16 PM   #11
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Here's a another way of looking at it that might make you feel better: if you look at total Fed taxes (including SSI + Medicare), your overall Fed tax rate would be about 29%. If you were self-employed, which is really common post-recession among my friends, and made $75K your tax rate would be about 24%. Not a huge difference.
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Old 02-14-2015, 02:52 PM   #12
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Since you do not get a tax deduction for letting it build in the DAF, I think money put in a DAF should be granted to charities right away. Otherwise, let it build in your own accounts and get a bigger tax deduction when you finally do donate.
This is a way to lower your AGI if you are in a high ordinary tax bracket plus if you pay AMT, so it will probably help them most now than when retired.

[Assuming they can itemize it] They can donate 5% of their DA fund value every year while working (or a little less if their administrator allows it), and let the rest build. Then when they do retire, they can donate from the fund instead of spending their annual draw on charitable donations or itemizing.
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Old 02-14-2015, 03:21 PM   #13
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Prob. doesn't make it any less bitter, but be glad you have no state and/or city income tax too.
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Old 02-14-2015, 03:55 PM   #14
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Depends on your situation. What you say makes sense if you regularly itemize, or if you make a single massive "dump" of donations one year and nothing in other years.

In our situation, we regularly give, but in a typical year since we live in a state with no income tax, we don't currently own property and have no mortgage, we usually take the standard deduction so our charitable contributions (averaging maybe $4-5K a year) do exactly bupkis for our taxes.

So we're looking at one of these, perhaps dumping $20-25K in at a time, so we can get a nice writeoff one year, and take the standard deduction for 3-4 years while we replenish our accounts to deposit another $20-25K chunk. The current alternative is donating $4-5K a year and getting no tax relief whatsoever. I'm looking at the nuances of tax law to see what we can do and how much we can deduct in a single tax year. We may do it this year -- we've talked about it in the past but we're in a position now where it seems like a better idea. This may be even more important for us because if all goes as planned, DW will be ordained this July and will change from a W-2 employee to being self-employed and having to pay self-employment tax.
We donate to the DAF every other year at the moment, because we itemize every other year.

And currently we donate 30% of our fund value every summer. But that's because we expect to add funds every other year. If we didn't donate funds often we would donate a much smaller amount of the DAF each year.
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Old 02-14-2015, 04:09 PM   #15
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They can donate 5% of their fund value every year while working (or a little less if their administrator allows it), and let the rest build. Then when they do retire, they can donate from the fund instead is spending their annual draw on charitable donations or itemizing.
Right or wrong, that's the way we are doing it, to a tee.

Back to the OP, all I can only say is that I share your pain. We paid a bundle in FIT last year (I can't even bring myself to say how much). When DW retires, doing our tax return is going to be a lot less painful.
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Old 02-14-2015, 08:37 PM   #16
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Old 02-14-2015, 08:50 PM   #17
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I felt your pain for a number of years. If your earnings are mostly W-2 earnings there is little that you can do other than maximize tax-deferred savings. Can you do a HSA?

While it sucks to pay more in tax than most people make, count your blessings.
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Old 02-14-2015, 08:55 PM   #18
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Poor you!

You're taking home almost a quarter million after FIT and payroll taxes. That's almost double our gross income from our highest earning year. Sounds like you're doing pretty well, huge income tax burden notwithstanding.
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Old 02-15-2015, 07:04 AM   #19
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I never minded having been phased out of the various tax credits for making too much. It means my financial life is going well.
Ditto !
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Old 02-15-2015, 08:41 AM   #20
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OP's "woes" reminds me of rental owners who tell similar woes when the properties stop losing money. Would they really want to keep losing 20K/yr rather than make 10K when they get to keep perhaps 75% of that 30K swing? You can focus on the taxes or perhaps what you keep after taxes. Same situation, different viewpts.
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