Tax Tips For Doctors & PhysiciansBy John Golway, CPA and Founder of Financial Designs Tax Services, LLC

It’s that time of year… cheery music, crisp weather, shiny lights… and wrapping up your taxes for 2018. Not only do you have the regular tax “to-dos”, but there are also new tax rules to be aware of thanks to tax reform (don’t panic – there is a good chance the new rules will save you money). See below for our top 5 year-end tax tips for 1099 medical professionals.

1) Reduce Your Taxable Income

To ensure you are maximizing your tax savings, you want to reduce your taxable income as much as possible. Here are some key items you can deduct as a 1099 provider:

  • Health insurance premiums
  • HSA contributions
  • Retirement contributions
  • Deductible business expenses (note: relocation expenses are no longer deductible)
  • Heavy vehicle purchase
  • Qualified Business Income (QBI) – new with tax reform! See a full explanation here.

 2) Pay Attention to Retirement Contribution Maximums and Funding Deadlines

As a self-employed medical professional, you have a few options for retirement savings, and many times this can be one of your biggest deductions. The two most common accounts for 1099 providers are the SEP IRA and Solo (or “Individual”) 401(k). The maximum you can contribute is $55,000 (with a $6k “catch-up” option for the Solo 401(k) if you are 50+ years of age). Each plan has its own advantages. The Solo 401(k) allows you to also fund a Roth IRA if it makes sense to do so. A lesser known fact is that a Defined Benefit Plan can allow you to save well over the typical $55,000 (more than $100k for some of our clients). Work with your financial adviser and CPA to determine the right retirement savings strategy that maximizes your tax deductions.

Additionally, note the deadlines for opening and funding these accounts:


Solo 401(k)

Defined Benefit Plan

Account Open Deadline

Tax Deadline*



Account Funded Deadline

Tax Deadline*

Tax Deadline*

Tax Deadline*

*Should you file an extension, use the extension deadline to determine your open or fund deadline.

3) Determine If You Can Take Advantage of the New QBI Deduction

The new QBI deduction is a huge deal. Historically, your retirement contribution was likely the largest deduction you were taking as a 1099 physician. It’s possible your QBI deduction might exceed your retirement contribution amount. The key is to lower your taxable income to be between $315,000 and $415,000 for married filing jointly (lower than $315,000 receives the full benefit), and between $157,500 and $207,500 for filing single (lower than $157,500 receives the full benefit). See a full explanation here. If you have an S Corp, you might want to consider if it makes sense to dissolve the entity, so you can take full advantage of the QBI deduction. See more here about entity formations and talk to your CPA.

4) Consider Tax Loss Harvesting

If you have stocks that are in a loss position (outside of retirement accounts), and you don’t expect them to rebound, you might want to sell them before the end of the year. If you have an overall loss, the maximum you can deduct is $3k (any excess carries forward). If you have any gains in the year, any of the loses offset the gains first, then you get a $3k tax deduction. If you do sell stocks at a loss, you cannot buy them back within 30 days.  This is called the “IRS wash-sale rule” and will disallow a tax deduction.

5) Familiarize Yourself with Other Tax Law Changes

The standard deduction was doubled. If your state/local/property taxes (cap at $10k), mortgage interest, and charitable contributions add up to lower than $24,000 for joint filing or $12,000 for single, then you will want to take the standard deduction. Some people are choosing to exceed the $24,000 with charitable funds deposited into a Donor Advised fund. This allows donors to receive an immediate tax deduction and then distribute funds at their discretion over time.  Contact your tax adviser for more details if applicable.

Also, you can now use 529 funds to pay for k-12 private education (up to $10,000 annually). Work with your financial adviser to determine if this is a good strategy for you and your family.

Don’t let the holidays get the best of your tax planning and preparation. For more information about how to find the best tax strategy for your situation, contact your tax professional or our experienced team.

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