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(NewsUSA) - As tax season approaches, there's still time to talk to a licensed tax specialist about your withholding and other possibilities for improving your tax-time savings.
The National Association of Enrolled Agents -- a group of licensed tax practitioners who focus solely on taxation year-round -- offers these tips:
* Increase or max out retirement contributions. Contribute more to your 401(k) to reduce your taxable income and your tax bill.
* The tax break for making a charitable gift from an Individual Retirement Account expired on Dec. 31, 2013. Anticipating that Congress will extend the deduction for 2014, some financial advisors are advising their clients to make the donations from their IRAs.
* If you can itemize deductions, giving to charity may also reduce your tax bill. In addition to contributions made by cash, check or credit card, items around the home that are in good condition can be donated to a qualified charitable organization. Remember to make a list of the items and determine their fair market value. Clip the list to the receipt from the organization, and keep it with your tax documents. Photos of donated items are also recommended.
* Gift-giving is another great tool. For 2014, the annual gift tax exclusion remains the same as 2013 at $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples making split-gifts).
* Sometimes, a major life change is thrown your way, and you might not think of it as a tax deduction. If you found yourself looking for a new job, then agency fees, resume expenses, career counseling costs and travel related to the job search may be deductible even if the job search was unsuccessful.
* On Jan. 1, 2013, the 3.8 percent net investment income (NII) surtax took effect. The surtax, which was passed by Congress to help fund health care reform, is imposed on the net investment in- come of higher-income individuals, estates and trusts that exceed certain thresholds. Generally, the surtax applies to passive income but can also hit capital gains from the disposition of property. Strategies should be considered to minimize, if possible, the surtax. The 0.9 percent Additional Medicare Tax that reaches higher-income individuals became effective on Jan. 1, 2013 as well.
* Watch the news. Late tax legislation by Congress might mean a delay to the start of the tax-filing season -- as was the case in 2013. If any adjustments in your plans need to be made, you won't be too late.
For more tips and to find an en- rolled agent, visit www.naea.org.