5. Make Up for Lost Time
Remember that even seemingly well-off clients may need last-minute retirement help, cautions Paul Auslander, director of financial planning at ProVise Management Group in Clearwater, Fla.
"There are those heart-wrenching meetings when you have someone where you think they are doing fine and they are not," he says, citing one example.
"There was a well-known M.D. in town who for whatever reason had her world kind of blow up, and she had to pay most of her money to a spouse in a divorce," Auslander recalls. "He thought he was going to be a novelist, yet never wrote a book. Now she's 58 years old and she has to scramble.
"She's paid for all the kids' education because she was the breadwinner," he adds. "Now she's panicking and worried about her own security. I've seen [similar] cases, male and female."
Doctors and lawyersespecially trial lawyers, Auslander says -- can find themselves in this predicament as they near retirement. The answer is to get them to make catch-up contributions to their traditional or Roth retirement plans.
Some clients can also open up a SEP right before they file their tax return, he says.
"They can deposit 25% of their income -- up to $52,000 for 2014 -- and $53,000 for the 2015 tax year. It's an opportunity to make up lost ground," he says. "That's an old strategy, but ... it keeps coming back and is valuable."
6. Take State Deductions on Lease Income
Clients who receive lease income from oil and gas producing companies -- who lease the right to drill for oil on their land -- are profiting now, Brownlee says. Although oil producers are sitting on their heels, waiting for the price of oil to rebound, they are still paying pricey three-year leases to property owners for the right to drill eventually.
Lease holders must file a state tax return wherever they derive this income from, Brownlee says -- as long as that state has an income tax -- but some states also offer a deduction on that income.
Brownlee cites an example. "A client had a $400,000 lease bonus check" from Oklahoma this year, he says, and that state's 22% deduction gave her an $88,000 deduction against Oklahoma income, saving her roughly $4,400 on her state tax return. Out-of-state CPAs and planners might miss that, he notes.
7. Switch Deductions among Divorced Couples
This tactic might require ex-spouses to work together amicably, but there's a worthwhile payoff, Locus says.
Because the IRS is phasing out certain deductions for high earners who bring in $254,000 or more annually, she explains, formerly married couples may want to switch some deductions from the high-earning parent to the lower-earning one to reduce the total amount paid to the feds.
"Usually the person [in a divorced couple] who has the higher income takes the kids as a deduction exemption," she says, to get the biggest bang for the buck. However, "in 2013, a phase-out for itemized deductions and personal exemptions for high earners began again -- and now people who have an adjusted gross income of $376,000 for a single person or $402,125 for a head of a household don't get any benefit from it. So, it may make sense that the person in the higher tax bracket lets the other spouse take the deduction and the [co-parents] either split the tax benefit or put that money in a 529 college account for a kid."
Failing to swap these deductions means that, she says, "the IRS is just getting more money."