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You can too avoid the tax by giving the stock to charity. 10,000 in inventory. In most cases, when you've got owned the stock for more than a yr you'll be able to deduct its market value. Another strategy to defer income is to contribute to a retirement plan. Retirement plans are nonetheless the most effective tax shelters,'' said Avery E. Neumark, the director of employee advantages and govt compensation for the accounting firm Rosen Seymour Shapss Martin & Company in New York.

Neither the cash put into retirement plans nor the interest and dividends it earns is taxable until withdrawn, generally after retirement, allowing years of tax-free compounding. This is true for particular person retirement accounts; 401(ok)'s, or, for nonprofit organizations, 403(b)'s; company pension plans, and Keoghs or simplified employee pensions (SEP's), for self-employed people.

Melinda Magnett, the principal of Brooklyn Landmark Realty, is working with Mr. Neumark to arrange a certified pension and profit-sharing plan by the tip of this yr. Even if the money for 1996 just isn't put into the plan until subsequent 12 months, she will still get a deduction this year. James Bossom of Houston, an adult-probation officer for Harris County, Tex., is wanting into establishing a retirement plan for his wife, Diane. Mrs. Bossom, who operates a house-based mostly sewing business, is eligible for a Keogh plan, as is anyone who has earned revenue that isn't covered by one other retirement plan, even when it's only half-time or sideline revenue.

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One deduction most taxpayers can take on Federal returns is for state and local taxes. Paying actual estate taxes -- or estimated earnings taxes due on Jan. 15 -- earlier than year-end can bring a 1996 deduction, as can making a January mortgage cost in December. Vaccaro cautioned, nonetheless: ''All the time attempt to do a two-year projection on taxes. You do not want to do one thing this yr if it's going to haunt you subsequent yr,'' by causing a liability, for instance, for the alternative minimal tax.

Although fewer than 1 p.c of taxpayers are affected by that tax, which is intended to make sure that affluent folks don't escape taxation, it generally is a nasty shock. People who've taken very massive deductions for state and native taxes or who have exercised incentive stock options often find yourself being liable for the tax. The positioning has an interactive spreadsheet.

One other manner is to use a pc tax program, like Taxcut or Turbotax. Man D. MacNeill, the director of promoting for Intuit's personal tax group, stated his company introduced out in November the ''head begin'' variations of its Turbotax for I.B.M. Macintax for Macintoshes. Enter your finest estimates for revenue and deductions, ''so you may see what your state of affairs is, and act,'' he stated.

Mr. Neumark of Rosen Seymour had a reminder for individuals over age 70 1/2 who've a qualified retirement plan or an I.R.A. Those who neglect to make their annual withdrawals can incur a 50 percent tax penalty. The tax guidelines in this area are complicated, and also you may want to get skilled counsel. Listed below are a number of more yr-finish suggestions for lowering your taxes from Sidney Kess, a new York tax lawyer and accountant who conducts seminars on the most recent adjustments in tax legislation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

6,000 if the baby has particular needs. If you are below 59 1/2, have large unreimbursed medical expenses and think the one option to pay them is by withdrawing cash from your I.R.A., wait. That may set off a 10 p.c penalty this year. Next yr, because of a current change, penalties won't be levied on the I.R.A.