Running the Numbers to Get My Taxes to Zero

I made my first real stab at running the numbers today to see if I can reduce ’s taxes to zero.

I’m starting with imperfect numbers, since I haven’t received my last paycheck yet and don’t know things like exactly how much income I’ve earned or how much of that was diverted pre-tax to things like health costs and retirement. Also, I’m using the tax return as a guideline, and Congress may change the tax law .

By making some fairly simple changes — putting $3,000 of ’s income into an IRA and using another $3,000 on tuition (maybe I’ll take those intensive Spanish courses I’ve been meaning to take) — I can reduce my income tax payment to slightly over 5% of what I paid . This will also, of course, be a big drain on the money I’d otherwise be using to live on.

(The IRA, like the 401k, merely puts my taxes off for another time. I haven’t really thought this through. Will I be able to withdraw from retirement accounts at a slow enough trickle so that I would still be able to stay under the taxable threshold if I remain this crazy at retirement age? Do I have any confidence that the government I face in my 70s will be any more tolerable than the one I face now?)

Getting rid of the last 5% will be more tricky. Turns out it’s much, much easier just to not earn the income in the first place than it is to earn it and then try to unearn it somehow. Anyone know someone who’s good at this sort of thing who might be willing to help out an accounting novice like me?