This post was authored by Salvatore M. Capizzi, Dunham's Chief Sales & Marketing Officer. If you have questions concerning today's topic, please call us at (858) 964 - 0500. Hold us to higher standards.

Six Last Minute Strategy Checklist

'Tis the season for holiday festivities and last-minute rushes.

Imagine your client invited you and a large group of their friends to a holiday dinner. As you and the guests are knocking at the door, the table is bare, scattered about the counter are the ingredients, and the client has not even preheated the oven. For your client host, it is now a frantic attempt to prepare a holiday feast from scratch when time is running out.

This scenario parallels delayed financial planning, where some clients leave important decisions and strategic actions until the last moment.

The rush, stress, and potential oversight of crucial details are not strangers to a seasoned financial advisor…

Put on the Apron

The feast must be prepared even if the guests are at the door. As a financial advisor, this is your moment to put on your metaphorical apron and get to work. Despite the late hour, your expertise can ensure the financial "meal" is well-prepared and satisfying.

As the year draws to a close, strategic financial planning becomes a now-or-never proposition.

In this blog, we will explore a range of powerful strategies to make the most of this crunch period.

Strategy I:

Capital Gains, Losses and Tax Loss Harvesting

 Offsetting Gains with Losses

Identifying investments that have experienced losses can lead to strategic tax planning. You can offset capital gains in other assets by selling these underperforming assets. This process is good old-fashioned fashion tax loss harvesting and involves intentionally selling investments at a loss to offset capital gains or up to $3,000 of ordinary income. But the clock is ticking, and you need to get this done within the next two weeks.

Strategy II:

Retirement Contributions

Business Owners

Ensure your business owner clients have optimized their 2023 contributions, explored the inclusion of cash balance plans, and capitalized on catch-up provisions for those aged 50 and above.

Individual Clients

Making last-minute contributions to retirement accounts to reduce taxable income and non-deductible IRA is great to bolster your client's retirement savings. Please keep an eye on using the full catch-up provisions for those aged 50 and above.

Strategy III:

Charitable Donations of Appreciated Assets


If your client is going to make a year-end charitable donation, consider donating appreciated assets instead of cash. This strategy allows you to help your client eliminate the capital gains and, subject to IRS gifting rules, will provide a 2023 tax deduction.

But time is running out. If this is a strategy you would like to use, call Dunham's Business Development Team at 858 964 – 0500 to see how we can help.

Strategy IV:

Roth IRA Conversion


A Roth IRA conversion involves transferring funds from a traditional IRA or defined contribution account into a Roth IRA, offering potential tax advantages. While this move incurs immediate tax implications, it sets the stage for

1.      Tax-free growth

2.      Tax-free retirement withdrawals

3.      Income tax-free assets to Roth IRA beneficiaries.

The IRS treats the converted amount as taxable income in the year of the conversion.

Determining the opportune time for a Roth IRA conversion hinges on individual tax circumstances. If, for instance in 2023, your client has substantial deductions or lower taxable income, a Roth conversion can make strategic sense.

In addition, for clients with charitable inclinations, "bunching" is important as we close out the year.

·         Bunching involves consolidating several years' worth of charitable contributions into a Donor Advised Fund, creating a larger tax deduction to help take some of the edge of the taxes due in a Roth Conversion.

Strategy V:

RMDs and Beneficiaries

There are several items to consider here.



If your client takes Required Minimum Distributions, it is time to check that they took the proper amount in 2023, or a 25% excess accumulation penalty tax applies.

Remember, if your client realizes in 2024 that the withdrawn RMD was less than required, they can drop the 25% penalty to 10% by withdrawing the correct RMD amount within the correction window, typically spanning two years.

An IRA owner can request a waiver of the penalty tax by providing a written explanation to the IRS. This explanation should outline why the RMD amount was not withdrawn by the deadline, along with confirmation of rectifying the "shortfall" by withdrawing the RMD amount after the deadline.

 Qualified Charitable Distributions

If your client did not take their full 2023 RMD and did not need the RMD, consider qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) to reduce your clients' income tax on the unwanted RMDs.


Please take this opportunity to review the beneficiaries on the IRAs while you're at it.

Section VI:

Additional Year-End Cleanup Strategies

 529 Plan Funding

Check the funding of 529 education savings plans, allowing possible state tax deductions and tax-free growth.

 Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

Maximize contributions or utilize remaining funds before year-end.

 Gift Tax Exclusion

This amount is $17,000 in 2023, increasing to $18,000 in 2024.

Closing Thoughts

For clients who have procrastinated all year, these last two weeks are critical to get their attention despite the year-end chaos.

This article's checklist of last-minute strategies guides you to ensure a satisfying financial 'meal' for your clients.

Since you have limited time to implement these strategies, call the Dunham Business Development Desk at (858) 964 – 0500 to see how we might help.


This communication is general in nature and provided for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be considered or relied upon as legal, tax, or investment advice or an investment recommendation, or as a substitute for legal counsel. Any investment products or services named herein are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered an offer to buy or sell, or an investment recommendation for, any specific security, strategy, or investment product or service. Always consult a qualified professional or your own independent financial professional for personalized advice or investment recommendations tailored to your specific goals, individual situation, and risk tolerance.

Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc. is a Registered Investment Adviser and Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC.

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