Time-tested end-of-year moves might be sensible in these last weeks of 2023, but the possible expiration of some 2017 tax reform provisions in just a little over two years should figure into planning.

Without congressional action, certain provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act sunset at the end of 2025. Many of these items involve estate planning.

The current estate tax exemption is $12.92 million per individual, for example, but in 2026 that exemption could plunge to about $6 million.

“Wealthy taxpayers, specifically those whose net worth exceeds $12 million, would be well-served by employing a prudent and appropriate gifting or trust strategy to begin shifting assets out of their taxable estate to their heirs,” says Brett Walters, financial planner at TBH Advisors in Brentwood, Tenn.

Piecemeal gifting before the end of 2025 can help. “Taxpayers can gift to any individual up to $17,000 without filing a gift tax return, and couples can gift up to $34,000” this year, Walters says. “One smart move is to accelerate gifting to 529 [college savings] accounts for kids or grandkids ... up to five years’ worth of gifts at once, or $85,000 for 2023, to any beneficiary.”

The current high interest rates also present opportunities, planners say: Because of the way the IRS calculates trust payouts, higher interest rates generally advantage users of qualified personal residence trusts and charitable remainder trusts, says Timothy Laffey, head of tax policy and research advisory at Rockefeller Global Family Office in Philadelphia. “Taxpayers should also evaluate their annual exclusion and direct educational and medical gifting and look at potentially maximizing the gifting that can be done without having to use any of their lifetime gift tax exemption or pay gift tax,” he says.

“For gifts of assets that require a qualified appraisal, such as closely held business interests, it may be strategic to wait until late in the year to finalize the gifting so that one appraisal could potentially be used for both the year-end and early-year gifting,” Laffey adds.

The downturn in the market, combined with the income tax rate increases in 2026, may make Roth conversions more common as the year ends, planners say.

You can strategically manage your tax bracket by converting traditional or rollover IRA funds to a Roth IRA by the end of the year, says Dustin Gale, senior wealth advisor at Kayne Anderson Rudnick in Los Angeles. That can help you “reduce required minimum distributions later and potentially provide tax-free income in retirement,” he says.

“By year-end, individuals also typically have a pretty good sense of where they will fall within the income tax brackets,” says Isaac Bradley, director of financial planning at Homrich Berg in Atlanta. “Roth conversions allow you to accelerate income to fill potentially lower tax brackets in the current year.”

Bunching charitable gifts in 2023 will work if the amount exceeds the still-high standard deduction, planners say.

Bradley says clients should take advantage of the increased standard deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for 2024 and 2025, “and then go back to itemizing deductions in 2026 after the provisions of the sunset.” He adds that donor-advised funds work well for bunching, as contributions are deductible in the year made but donors can distribute the funds to their selected charities over several years.

Advisors also recommend maximizing funding to employer-sponsored retirement plans.

“These have cutoff dates, and once the year is over you typically cannot go back and fund them more,” says Nayan Ranchhod, a private wealth advisor at Ameriprise Financial in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Erik Preus, head of investment solutions at Envestnet PMC in Minneapolis, says what’s expiring will be a lot clearer by the end of next year since 2024 is an election year.

But Walters adds, “High-earning taxpayers should work under the assumption that taxes will almost certainly be higher in the future.”