The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2025, meaning significant changes are on the horizon for taxpayers. Now is the time to understand those implications and consider strategies to help mitigate the potential tax risks. This article can help you get started.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 brought sweeping changes to the tax code for both businesses and individuals. Along with large, permanent tax cuts to corporate profits, the TCJA:

  • Lowered individual tax rates by restructuring the tax brackets
  • Almost doubled the standard deduction from $13,000 to $24,000
  • Decoupled the income threshold for capital gains taxes from ordinary income tax brackets to benefit higher income taxpayers
  • Effectively doubled the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption (from $5.5 million to $13.1 million)

All these ‘non-permanent’ changes, however, are set to expire on December 31, 2025—at which point they will revert back to pre-TCJA levels.

So, how exactly might this impact your financial plan?

Barring any action on the part of Congress, the window is quickly closing on several of the tax mitigation benefits afforded by the TCJA. Certainly, there remains time to reach an agreement that would extend at least some of these provisions. But through continued political tension and the general unsteadiness of global economies (including the U.S.), this may be an opportune time to explore some of the following strategies.

1) Estate and Gift Tax Considerations

As of 2024, individuals can currently transfer up to $13.61 million and a married couple can transfer a total of up to $27.22 million (either during your life or as part of your estate) without triggering federal gift or estate taxes. If no legislative action is taken, however, that historically high exemption amount will be cut in half for the 2026 tax year. As a result, if your taxable estate exceeds the existing exemption amount, some estate planning strategies that may prove beneficial to explore include:

  • Annual cash gifts — You are permitted to gift up to $18,000/year ($36,000 for married couples filing jointly) to as many individuals as you wish. These annual gifts aren’t subject to taxes and don’t count against your lifetime exemption. If you have a large extended family, this can offer an easy way to transfer considerable wealth to the next generation.
  • 529 Plan accelerated gifts — Current tax law allows you to accelerate five years of gifts to educational accounts for your children and grandchildren (as well as any other friends or relatives). This means you could gift up to $90,000 in a single year ($180,000 for a married couple) to each individual. It’s an ideal way to help them save for future qualified educational expenses (where the funds grow tax-free) while reducing your taxable estate.
  • Dynasty trusts — If you haven’t yet used a major chunk of your lifetime gift and estate tax exemption, you may want to consider establishing a dynasty trust. It’s a great way to provide for multiple future generations for as long as state law permits the trust to exist. Any future trust asset income and appreciation can then be transferred between subsequent generations without estate or gift taxes. And by funding the trust with a life insurance policy, you can further increase the trust’s value.
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs) — Purchasing a survivorship policy owned by an ILIT is one of the most common ways to transfer wealth outside of your taxable estate. In addition, the death benefit paid out to your beneficiaries is income that’s also considered tax-free.

2) Income and Capital Gains Tax Considerations

Since income tax brackets are also slated to revert back to pre-TCJA levels (e.g., the top tax bracket increasing to 39.6% from its current 37%), many wealthier taxpayers can expect a measurable increase in their effective tax rate. In light of this, you may wish to explore opportunities to accelerate income when and where possible over the next couple years to take advantage of the lower brackets, including:

  • Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA — Whereas distributions from traditional IRAs are mandatory starting at age 721, taxed as ordinary income, and subject to a 10% penalty prior to age 59½, Roth IRAs have no required minimum distributions, and all future growth and distributions are tax-free. By converting your traditional IRA to a Roth before 2026, you pay the income tax liability up front (potentially at a lower tax rate) rather than at the time of distribution.
  • Harvesting capital gains — If you anticipate potentially higher capital gains tax rates in the future, you may want to consider selling some of your highly appreciated securities prior to the expiration of the TCJA. While such sales would produce a taxable gain, it may be less than at some point in the future. And since wash sale rules only apply to harvesting losses (not gains), you could then turn around and repurchase the same securities at a stepped-up cost basis to help reduce future recognized gains while still retaining the investment.

3) Putting an Effective Plan in Place

While none of us know what the future holds, the more time you have to prepare, the more options you’ll have.

Proper diversification of your assets may serve as the primary tool for reducing risk without sacrificing return potential. Furthermore, it is vital to establish a well-thought-out plan for when it comes time to draw down from your assets for retirement income. With the help of your tax professional, your Financial Advisor can help you explore strategies to increase your likelihood of controlling future tax liability while maintaining liquidity leading up to and through retirement.

Working With Janney

Depending on your financial needs and personal preferences, you may opt to engage in a brokerage relationship, an advisory relationship or a combination of both. Each time you open an account, we will make recommendations on which type of relationship is in your best interest based on the information you provide when you complete or update your client profile.

When you engage in an advisory relationship, you will pay an asset-based fee which encompasses, among other things, a defined investment strategy, ongoing monitoring, and performance reporting. Your Financial Advisor will serve in a fiduciary capacity for your advisory accounts.

For more information about Janney, please see Janney’s Relationship Summary (Form CRS) on which details all material facts about the scope and terms of our relationship with you and any potential conflicts of interest.

Based on your unique needs, goals, and preferences, we can build a tailored financial plan and make recommendations about solutions that are aligned with your best interest.

Contact us today to discuss how we can put a plan in place to help you reach your financial goals.

1. Please Note: Beginning in 2023, the SECURE 2.0 Act raised the age that you must begin taking RMDs to age 73. If you reached age 72 in 2023, the required beginning date for your first RMD is April 1, 2025, for 2024. If you reached age 73 in 2023, you were 72 in 2022 and subject to the age 72 RMD rule in effect for 2022.

If you reached age 72 in 2022:

  • Your first RMD was due by April 1, 2023, based on your account balance on December 31, 2021, and
  • Your second RMD was due by December 31, 2023, based on your account balance on December 31, 2022.



Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, its affiliates, and its employees are not in the business of providing tax, regulatory, accounting, or legal advice. These materials and any tax-related statements are not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used or relied upon, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Any such taxpayer should seek advice based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

For more information about Janney, please see Janney’s Relationship Summary (Form CRS) on which details all material facts about the scope and terms of our relationship with you and any potential conflicts of interest.

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