Tax Tip #6: Pull charitable contributions forward
If you give regular sums of money to a church or charity, consider making any contributions you originally planned for the first quarter of next year to December. Or, if you don’t regularly give to charity, this might be a good time to start.
Cash contributions are the easiest and most likely to survive an audit. But the IRS is actually pretty generous when it comes to donating things like old cars or old clothes. For low-hanging fruit, spend a Saturday cleaning out your closet. Chances are good you can generate a couple hundred dollars in tax breaks by donating clothes that you’re no longer wearing. Just make sure you keep good records about the items donated, the condition they were in, and the date you donated them. If you want to be meticulous about it, take photos of the items with your camera phone and file them away with your tax materials for the year.
Reaching an estimated value can be tricky if you’re trying to do it on your own, but popular tax programs like TurboTax and TaxAct will walk you through the process and help you assign proper values.