Tax planning for physicians header graphic
Tax planning for physicians header graphic
Tax planning for physicians header graphic

Mastering Tax Planning: A Year-Round Guide for Employed Physicians

By taking proactive steps throughout the year, you can significantly reduce your tax burden and maximize your financial well-being

By: Tanya Frias, CFP®, ChSNC®

Published: May 19, 2024

📂 Financial Education

Written for:

✅ Residents and Fellows

✅ Early Career Physicians

✅ Mid Career Physicians

✅ Established Professionals

Tax season may be over, but employed physicians can't afford to put tax planning on hold. By taking proactive steps throughout the year, you can significantly reduce your tax burden and maximize your financial well-being. This comprehensive guide explores key areas for tax optimization, record-keeping best practices, and advanced strategies to empower you.

Optimizing Your Tax Situation Today

  1. Maximize Tax-Advantaged Accounts:

    • 401(k) and 403(b) Plans: Contribute pre-tax dollars to employer-sponsored retirement plans. For 2024, the contribution limit is $22,500, with an additional catch-up contribution of $7,500 for those aged 50 and above. This significantly reduces your taxable income and allows your retirement savings to grow tax-deferred.

    • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): If enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), consider HSAs. Contributions are tax-deductible, grow tax-free, and qualified medical expense withdrawals are tax-free. HSAs offer a triple tax advantage, making them a powerful tool for saving for future healthcare costs.

  2. Deducting Work-Related Expenses:

    • Continuing Medical Education (CME): Deduct expenses for CME that maintains or improves your current skills, including registration fees, travel, and accommodation. Keep detailed records for documentation purposes.

    • Travel and Transportation: Claim travel expenses for conferences, seminars, and work-related mileage driven using the standard IRS mileage rate or documented actual expenses.

    • Professional Fees and Licenses: Deduct licensing fees, DEA registration, board certification, and state-specific licensing fees as they are necessary to maintain your professional status.

  3. Income Management Strategies:

    • Bonus Management: Annual bonuses can push you into a higher tax bracket. Discuss strategies with your tax and financial advisor to minimize the impact. This could involve deferring bonuses, increasing retirement contributions, or making charitable donations. 

  4. Tax Credits You Might Be Missing:

    • Lifetime Learning Credit: This credit offers up to $2,000 per tax return for qualified education expenses for post-secondary education. Check current IRS guidelines for eligibility.

    • Child and Dependent Care Credit: If you pay for dependent care to enable you to work, you may be eligible for a credit of up to 35% of qualifying expenses.

    • Energy Efficiency Home Improvement Credit: Investing in energy-efficient home improvements, such as solar panels or energy-efficient windows, may qualify for a credit of up to 30% of the cost. Stay informed about government incentives for additional savings.

Home Office Deduction (For Future Reference): While the deduction for unreimbursed employee expenses, including a home office, is currently suspended until 2025 due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), keep detailed records for potential future use.

Building a Year-Round Planning Mindset

  1. Record Keeping: Maintain meticulous digital records of receipts, invoices, and other documentation. Utilize financial management apps to simplify expense tracking and ensure you can substantiate deductions. Keep records for at least seven years for potential audits.

  2. Stay Informed: Regularly review updates to tax laws affecting medical professionals. The IRS website and professional tax advisors are valuable resources. Consider subscribing to tax newsletters or joining professional groups to stay updated.

  3. Consult a Tax Professional: A tax advisor specializing in physicians can ensure you're leveraging all available deductions and create a personalized tax plan aligned with your financial goals.

  4. Schedule Quarterly Reviews: Don't wait until tax season! Schedule quarterly reviews with your tax advisor to optimize deductions and strategically time expenses throughout the year.

Advanced Strategies for the Future-Oriented Physician

  1. Tax Planning Software: Utilize software like TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxAct to simplify calculations, identify potential deductions and credits, and gain real-time insights for tax optimization.

  2. Professional Development Accounts (PDAs): If offered by your employer, PDAs provide pre-tax dollars specifically for professional expenses like CME, licensure, and conferences.

  3. Real Estate Strategies (For Rental Property Owners): Consider cost segregation studies to accelerate depreciation and reduce taxable income. Consult a real estate tax advisor to explore these options.

  4. Charitable Contributions with Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs): Leverage DAFs to take an immediate tax deduction on charitable contributions while recommending grants over time. This strategy can be particularly useful in high-income years.

  5. Roth IRA Conversions: Evaluate converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs during lower income years or favorable tax rates. While you'll pay taxes on the converted amount now, future withdrawals from Roth IRAs are tax-free.

By following these steps and taking a proactive approach, employed physicians can significantly reduce their tax burden and improve their financial well-being. Remember, tax planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.

Disclaimer: This guide provides general information on tax planning for employed physicians and should not be considered personalized tax advice. Tax laws are complex and can change frequently. Consult with a qualified tax professional for personalized strategies based on your specific financial situation and circumstances.

Take control of your financial future today! Schedule a free consultation with Andwise's team of financial experts to discuss personalized tax planning strategies and achieve your financial goals.

Ready to take the next step? Mid-Career Moves: Financial Strategies for Established Physicians Considering a Change

With Tanya Frias, CFP®, ChSNC 🟢

1. Schedule Your Strategic Session

2. Address Mid-Career Financial Planning

3. Strategize for Growth

Choose a Time 🚀

Mid-career transitions in medicine bring unique financial challenges and opportunities. This session offers targeted advice for adjusting your financial planning to align with career changes, such as specialty shifts, leadership roles, or starting a private practice. Discover adaptable strategies to ensure your finances are both resilient and growth-oriented, setting a strong financial course no matter your career direction.

Read more by Tanya Frias, CFP®, ChSNC®

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