If you're reading this, you've probably put off thinking about ways to save on your 2013 tax bill.
But it's not too late to take advantage of tax breaks, including some that are scheduled to disappear after this year. Sometimes the government renews tax-saving rules, but there's no guarantee.
We'll leave out some of the breaks that are difficult for individuals to claim (like tax credits for manufacturing energy-efficient appliances or installing off-shore wind-powered electric turbines) and focus on some that can benefit individuals.
For example, last week a crew from Omaha Door & Window Co. replaced 20-year-old windows with energy-efficient ones at an Omaha house.
The homeowner, Paul Davidson, said the project may qualify for energy tax credits, a tax advantage that is due to expire after this year. “I'll find out when I do my taxes in a few months,” he said.
Starting today, then, you have 11 days to beat the tax clock. Check out IRS.gov for details and consider these 14 potential tax-saving options.
>> Postpone year-end bonuses, exercising stock options or other flexible income until next year. You still owe the tax but delay payment for a year.
>> Sell money-losing stocks to offset gains and reduce capital gains taxes.
>> Add to your 401(k) account, which can receive a maximum of $17,500 for people under 50 or $23,000 for people 50 and older.
>> Donate to nonprofits — not only cash but also clothing, tools and other household items — to claim deductions.
>> Pay for energy-efficient windows, furnaces or other goods that qualify for energy tax credits of 10 percent of the cost, up to a lifetime maximum of $500. The credit is due to expire at year's end.
>> Pay tuition, fees and other qualified higher education expenses now, because the deduction expires for 2014. The deduction can total $4,000 for couples with incomes below $160,000.
>> If you're older than 70½ and taking a mandatory distribution from your IRA, this is the last year you can claim a deduction for donating up to $100,000 to a charity, even if you don't itemize.
>> Teachers can deduct up to $250 on classroom supplies but not after this year, so stock up on pencils, posterboard and paste.
>> Buy that electric car, because part of the tax credit goes away in 2014.
>> Pre-pay 2014 property taxes to the county treasury and deduct two years' taxes on your 2013 return.
>> Pay January mortgage interest in December, gaining an extra month's deduction.
>> If you received loan forgiveness in a foreclosure, complete the deal this year because the amount will be subject to income tax starting in 2014.
>> Make a tax-free gift to someone else, up to $14,000 a year.
>> Fund a 529 state college savings plan by Dec. 31 to qualify for a possible state income tax deduction.
Sources: American Institute of CPAs; IRS; About.com; Forbes; Douglas County Treasurer's Office; CNBC; H&R Block.