Tax Planning Considerations for High Earners

Estate & Gift Taxes

For gifts made in 2023, the gift tax annual exclusion is $17,000 and for 2024 is $18,000. For 2023, the unified estate and gift tax exemption and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption is $12,920,000 per person. For 2024, the unified estate and gift tax exemption and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption is $13,610,000. All outright gifts to a spouse who is a U.S. citizen are free of federal gift tax. However, for 2023 and 2024, only the first $175,000 and $185,000 of gifts to a non-U.S. citizen spouse are excluded from the total amount of taxable gifts for the year. Tax planning strategies may include:

  • Making annual exclusion gifts.
  • Making larger gifts to the next generation, either outright or in trust.
  • Creating a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT) or a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) or selling assets to an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT).

Charitable Contributions

Cash contributions made to qualifying charitable organizations, including donor-advised funds, in 2023 and 2024 will be subject to a 60% AGI limitation. The limitations for cash contributions continue to be 30% of AGI for contributions to non-operating private foundations. Tax planning around charitable contributions may include:

  • Creating and funding a private foundation, donor-advised fund, or charitable remainder trust.
  • Donating appreciated property to a qualified charity to avoid long-term capital gains tax.

Retirement Plan Contributions

Based on the key information here, individuals may want to maximize their annual contributions to qualified retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

  • Permits a penalty-free withdrawal of up to $5,000 from traditional IRAs and qualified retirement plans for qualifying expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child after December 31, 2019.
  • The $5,000 distribution limit is per individual, so a married couple could each receive $5,000.
  • Individuals are now able to contribute to their traditional IRAs in or after the year in which they turn 70½.
  • The SECURE Act requires that designated beneficiaries of persons who died after December 31, 2019, take inherited plan benefits over a 10-year period. Eligible designated beneficiaries (i.e., surviving spouses, minor children of the plan participant, disabled and chronically ill beneficiaries and beneficiaries who are less than 10 years younger than the plan participant) are not limited to the 10-year payout rule. Special rules apply to certain trusts.
The SECURE Act 2.0
  • The SECURE Act 2.0 raised the age that a taxpayer must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) to age 73.
  • If the individual reaches age 72 in 2023, the required beginning date for the first RMD is April 1, 2025, for 2024.
  • If the taxpayer reaches age 73 in 2023, the taxpayer was 72 in 2022 and subject to the age 72 RMD rule in effect for 2022. If the taxpayer reached age 72 in 2022, the first RMD was due April 1, 2023, and the second RMD is due December 31, 2023.
401(k) or 403(b) Plan Elective Contributions

The maximum amount of elective contributions that an employee can make in 2023 to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan is $22,500 ($30,000 if age 50 or over and the plan allows “catch up” contributions). For 2024, these limits are $23,000 and $30,500.

Charity Donations

Individuals age 70½ or older can donate up to $100,000 to a qualified charity directly from a taxable IRA.

Inherited Retirement Plans

Under proposed Treasury Regulations (issued February 2022) that address required minimum distributions from inherited retirement plans of persons who died after December 31, 2019, and after their required beginning date, designated and non-designated beneficiaries will be required to take annual distributions, whether subject to a ten-year period or otherwise.

Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) Plan

Small businesses can contribute the lesser of (i) 25% of employees’ salaries or (ii) an annual maximum set by the IRS each year to a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan by the extended due date of the employer’s federal income tax return for the year that the contribution is made.

    • The maximum SEP contribution for 2023 is $66,000. The maximum SEP contribution for 2024 is $69,000.
    • The calculation of the 25% limit for self-employed individuals is based on net self-employment income, which is calculated after the reduction in income from the SEP contribution (as well as for other things, such as self-employment taxes).

2023 Year-End Tax Planning Guides

Individual Guide


2023 Business Guide

Coming Soon!