Tax Optimization Strategy

The 2 Most Common Ways to Reduce Your Taxes

  • Tax Deductions (<$250K)
  • Income Distribution (>$250K)
Tax Deductions

Reducing your taxable income by deducting variety of personal & business expenses is one of the most common ways to lower your taxes when your gross income is under $250K. It becomes less effective as your income increases due to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). If you make $250K or more, you should start thinking about income distribution.

Income Distribution

Generating income from passive investments do not usually require material participation. If you invest on behalf of someone who has zero ordinary income, you will save more than $30K on your taxes for $120K passive income. The potential candidates could be retired parents, stay-at-home relatives, or children. This scheme allows you to distribute your passive income among idle family members and relatives without setting up complex corporations or trusts.

$250K Base Income @CA (Married Filing Jointly)

Tax Brackets Rate Tax
Federal $0 – $65,000 32% $20,800
$65,000 – $120,000 35% $19,250
FICA $0 – $120,000 3.8% $4,560
State $0 – $120,000 9.3% $11,160
Total Tax
$250K Base Income @CA $55,770

This is an example of adding $120K passive income on top of $250K ordinary income. Your marginal tax rates for federal income tax are 32% for the first $65K and 35% for the remaining $55K. You also have to pay the 3.8% Medicare tax on the lesser of (1) $120,000 net investment income, or (2) the amount of AGI exceeds the $250,000 threshold. California state income tax will be 9.3% for the entire income. Your total income tax is $55,770.

No Income @CA (Married Filing Jointly)

Tax Brackets Rate Tax
Federal $0 – $24,000 0% $0
$24,000 – $43,050 10% $1,905
$43,050 – $101,400 12% $7,002
$101,400 – $120,000 22% $4,092
FICA $0 – $120,000 0% $0
State $0 – $120,000 4.37% $5,121
Total Tax
No Income @CA $18,120

If your only income is $120K from passive investment and there is no income from other sources, your income tax rate will be much less. Your federal income tax will be $13K after the $24K standard deduction. The effective tax rate for the California state income tax will be 4.37%, which is less than half. Your total income tax is only $18,120. That is over $37K in tax savings.