Yikes, it’s that time of year when we start saying, “I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again.” Starting next week, holiday decorations will adorn office building lobbies, stores, and your neighbors front lawns. You won’t be able to escape the endless loop of holiday commercials. I dread that Lexus commercial so much—who wakes up on Christmas morning with a new car in the driveway?
It also that time of the year to make your year-end tax moves.
· Max out your 401(k), if you are older than 50, you can contribute up to $23,000. If you are self-employed and have a Simplified Employee Pension (sep) ira, you may be able to put away more. You have until December 31 to set up a sep for 2014.
· If you are over 70½, you need to take your required minimum distribution (rmd) from your ira. Failure to do so by December 31 can result in a penalty.
· Tax-loss harvesting: if certain investments didn’t work out, take the loss. You can use the loss to offset gains or carry it forward to offset future gains.
· Give to charity. Aside from the good that comes from supporting your college, hospital, or social cause, your donation can help lower your taxes. If you have highly appreciated securities, they are great investments to donate; you avoid paying the capital gains tax, and you get the deduction for the charitable donation. It’s not a bad idea to set up a donor-advised fund for your charitable giving. A donor-advised fund is essentially a vehicle that accepts your donation (cash, stock, real estate, etc.) and allows you the flexibility to distribute funds to the charities of your choice over time.
· If you have children or grandchildren, you can contribute to their 529 accounts. We all know how fast the cost of college is growing. Grandparents can contribute to an existing 529 account or set up their own, naming their grandchildren as beneficiaries.
Next week is Thanksgiving, and I thought I would close out this post with a few wine and beer selections to complement your turkey feast. I am a firm believer that there is no “right” wine to drink with your dinner. Drink what you like, and who cares what your pretentious uncle has to say.
· 2012 Slingshot Napa Valley Cabernet. I love this wine! It’s soft, with a lot of fruit, and not terribly oaky. It will definitely not overpower your bird or pumpkin pie.
· 2012 Montinore Estate Pinot Noir. I wrote about this Oregon wine earlier in the year and still consider it my go-to pinot. Pinot noir is the traditional red wine of Thanksgiving because of it softness and earthy flavor. While I have not tasted Montinore’s Almost Dry Riesling, I have read great things about it. Riesling is a superb white wine choice with turkey because of the richness of flavor and slight sweetness on the finish.
· 2012 Argyle Pinot Noir. This is another Oregon pinot noir that is peppery and full-bodied enough to take on that overcooked turkey.
As I said earlier, I believe in drinking the wine you enjoy. But if you really want to impress someone on Thanksgiving this year, bring a gewürztraminer to dinner. Gewürztraminer is a grape varietal that is grown all over the world but is most prolific in Germany and the Alsace region of France. There are many fine American gewürztraminers, many from wineries in northern Michigan, specifically the Leelanau Peninsula. One of my favorite gewürztraminers comes from a California winery, Gundlach Bundschu. This is the ultimate turkey wine—luscious, viscous, and packed with aromas to complement everything on the table. Trust me!
Last but not least a Thanksgiving beer, and it’s an obvious one. While some pumpkin beers can be overpowering, too much cinnamon and clove, Southern Tier Brewery located in western New York State makes a winner called Pumking. This beer comes out before Halloween, but you should still be able to find bottles at your favorite retailer.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving with friends and relatives. Cherish the time off, watch some football, eat until you can’t eat any more, and most important, if you are traveling, travel safe. Happy Thanksgiving.