Year-end planning for 2009 also involves maximizing annual contributions to your retirement plan accounts, since one year's limit cannot be added to the next year's if not taken in time. While contributions to IRAs may be applied retroactively if made before the filing deadline, an individual's elective deferral contribution made as an employee to a qualified plan must be made before the end of the calendar year.
Maximizing contributions to your retirement plan (or plans) before year end also allows you to reduce your adjusted gross income in direct proportion to those contributions. This in turn can give you the benefit of increasing the deductibility of medical and other deductions subject to adjusted gross income floors.
As many 401(k) plan account owners have realized in 2009, managing a tax-deferred retirement account is not a "set it and forget it" proposition. Although sheltered from tax, a 401(k) or other defined contribution plan also requires careful management of the performance of those investments and re-allocation of assets whenever appropriate. Unfortunately, losses on any 401(k) plan are not tax deductible; nor can they offset capital gains in non-tax sheltered accounts.