How to Save your Taxes (Part 1)

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How to Save your Taxes (Part 1)

As the old adage goes, "There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes." While we cannot escape paying taxes, we can certainly be smarter about how we manage them. In this blog, we aim to empower you with valuable insights and practical strategies to optimize your tax planning and keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket. Whether you are a salaried individual, a small business owner, or an investor, understanding the intricacies of the tax system can lead to significant savings and financial peace of mind. From exploring legitimate deductions and credits to leveraging tax-efficient investment options, we will guide you through the maze of taxation, ensuring that you can confidently navigate the process and make the most of every opportunity to save on taxes. So, let's embark on this journey together, as we unlock the secrets to maximizing your tax savings and achieving better financial outcomes.

When you prepare your taxes, look at how much you paid in taxes last year

Preparing your taxes can feel overwhelming, but taking a closer look at how much you paid in taxes last year can provide you with valuable insights. When you gather all your tax documents and start filling out your tax return, it is essential to review your previous year's tax payments. By examining this information, you can gain a better understanding of your tax situation, identify potential areas for tax savings, and plan for the upcoming tax year.

Make sure you are not paying too much tax through tax withholding

When it comes to taxes, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is overpaying through tax withholding. Many people receive a tax refund each year, but this is essentially an interest-free loan to the government. To avoid overpaying, it is important to make sure your tax withholding is accurate.

Start by checking your W-4 form to see how many allowances you have claimed. If you have claimed too few allowances, you will be paying more in taxes than necessary. Conversely, claiming too many allowances could result in owing taxes come tax season. Review your tax returns from previous years to get a sense of how much you typically owe or receive as a refund, and adjust your allowances accordingly. If you are uncertain how many allowances to claim, consider using the IRS withholding calculator to find your optimal number. By optimizing your allowances, you can ensure that you are not overpaying in taxes throughout the year.

Claim All Deductions

When it comes to saving money on your taxes, one of the most important things you can do is make sure you're claiming all of the deductions you're entitled to. Deductions are expenses that you can subtract from your total income for tax purposes, which can help lower your tax bill. While many deductions are straightforward - such as charitable donations or business expenses - others can be more complicated. For example, if you work from home, you may be able to deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage interest as a business expense. In order to ensure you are claiming all of the deductions you're eligible for, it's important to keep detailed records and consult with a tax professional if necessary.

Earn Tax-Free Income

Tax-free income refers to the money you earn that is not subject to taxation by the government. It is an excellent way for individuals to save on their taxes and maximize their overall income. There are various ways in which you can earn tax-free income, and understanding these options can be extremely beneficial.

Save for Retirement -- and College

When it comes to retirement, there are several ways you can save on taxes. One option is to contribute to a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The money you contribute to a traditional IRA is tax deductible, which means you can reduce your taxable income by the amount you contribute. However, keep in mind that you will need to pay taxes on the money when you withdraw it in retirement. Another option is to contribute to a 401(k) if your employer provides one. This is similar to an IRA, but employer contributions are also tax deductible. In addition, some employers offer a Roth 401(k) option, which means the money you contribute is taxed now, but you won't have to pay taxes on it when you withdraw it in retirement.

If you have children who are planning on attending college, you may be able to save on taxes by setting up a 529 college savings plan. These plans allow you to contribute money to a tax-advantaged account that can be used to pay for qualified education expenses, such as tuition, books, and room and board. In addition, some states offer tax deductions or credits on contributions made to a 529 plan. However, keep in mind that if you withdraw money from a 529 plan for non-qualified expenses, you will be subject to taxes and a 10% penalty on the earnings.

Take the Higher of Standard Deduction or Itemized Deductions

When it comes to saving on taxes, one key decision that taxpayers often need to make is whether to take the higher of the standard deduction or itemized deductions. The standard deduction is a predetermined amount set by the IRS that reduces your taxable income, while itemized deductions allow you to deduct specific expenses you incurred throughout the year.

For many taxpayers, taking the standard deduction is the easiest and most straightforward option. The standard deduction is a fixed amount that varies depending on your filing status, such as single, married filing jointly, or head of household. It requires no additional documentation or calculations, making it a simple way to reduce your taxable income. However, it's important to note that if you choose to take the standard deduction, you won't be able to claim any itemized deductions, even if they could potentially save you more money.

Open a Health Savings Account

Opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) is one of the best ways to save your taxes. With an HSA, you can save money on health expenses, and the money in your account grows tax-free. You can even use the money in your HSA to cover your healthcare expenses in retirement.

Contribute to Your 401(k) Plan

One effective way to save on taxes is by contributing to your 401(k) plan. A 401(k) plan is a type of retirement savings account that allows employees to set aside a portion of their pre-tax income to invest for their future. By contributing to a 401(k) plan, you not only save for your retirement but also reduce your taxable income in the present.

When you contribute to your 401(k) plan, the money you contribute is deducted from your taxable income. This means that you pay less in taxes because your taxable income is lower.

Additionally, the money you contribute to your 401(k) plan grows tax-deferred, meaning that you do not pay taxes on any investment gains until you withdraw the funds in retirement.

Sign Up for Your Employer’s HSA Plan

One avenue that you should definitely explore is signing up for your employer's Health Savings Account (HSA) plan. An HSA is a tax-advantaged account designed to help individuals save money for medical expenses. By participating in your employer's HSA plan, you can take advantage of several benefits.

Firstly, signing up for your employer's HSA plan allows you to contribute pre-tax dollars towards your healthcare expenses. This means that the money you contribute to your HSA is deducted from your paycheck before taxes are applied. As a result, you lower your taxable income, saving you money on your annual tax bill. By maximizing your contributions to your HSA, you can significantly reduce your overall tax liability.

Moreover, participating in an employer-sponsored HSA plan offers you the opportunity to enjoy tax-free growth on your contributions.

Put Money Into a Flexible Spending Account

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a powerful tool that can save you money on your taxes. By putting money into an FSA, you can set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for qualified medical expenses. This means that you can effectively lower your taxable income by the amount you contribute to your FSA.

Takeaway: Pay attention to deductions and tax savings

Paying Attention to Deductions:

  • When filing your taxes, it is important to pay close attention to deductions that you may be able to claim. In order to take advantage of deductions, you will need to itemize your deductions on Schedule A of your tax return.

  • In addition, keep in mind that the standard deduction has increased in recent years. This means that even if you don't have a lot of deductible expenses, you may still be better off taking the standard deduction. 

Tax Savings:

  • Another way to save on your taxes is to take advantage of tax credits. In order to claim tax credits, you will need to file your tax return and complete Form 8863 if necessary.

  • It is important to note that not all tax credits are available to everyone. Be sure to review all of the available tax credits to determine which ones you are eligible for and can benefit from.


Beyond your financial balance


At Yogi CPA, we have developed a three-part journey to your ZEN financial state: tax strategy, entrepreneurship, building wealth. As you master your tax strategy and entrepreneur pursuits, you are now ready to move beyond your financial balance.

Yogi CPA believe in a holistic approach to work and life, and take a deeper look into your financial and life goals. Financial decisions revolve around the things you care the most about, as career aspiration and life inspiration often meet. As a purpose-driven firm, we help clients move beyond the financial balance and design a financial independence lifestyle tailored to your own method of building wealth.

Financial independence is a goal that elevates each of us to become better versions of ourselves, and in turn we create better value for others. Let Yogi CPA be your guide through this journey!