Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Year-End Tax Tips from an Expert
Consider a Donation to a Charitable Organization

TALLAHASSEE, FL - There are a couple of days left in 2013, but according to tax expert Marshall Mennenga, there are some steps people can take before 2014 arrives to not only lower their tax bills, but to help others at the same time. He suggested contributions to charitable organizations.

"Maybe you need to clean out some closets and give some clothes to Goodwill, to 'Saint Vinny's' or many of the other organizations out there that are nonprofit organizations, that will accept your goods, your household furniture, clothes, and things like that," he advised. "Of course, the fair market value of those items is deductible."

Another suggestion is cash contributions, but Mennenga said to make sure to get receipts documenting the amounts. He noted there are very few tax-law changes from last year to be aware of. Every year, the Internal Revenue Service puts out a guide for tax preparation called Publication 17.

 • IRS
 • PDF: Pub 17, 2013 Tax Guide
 • On Line: Pub 17, 2013 Tax Guide

"Last year, it was like February 10th before it was available for distribution," he recalled. "For right now, here in late December, it's already available, so there's no major changes coming."

Another tip is not to jump the gun and try to fill in your tax return before you have everything you need, such as your 1099 forms for interest and dividends.

"Wait before your do your tax return to make sure you have everything. Use your previous year's tax return as a guideline," he said. "Check off each one of the places you received interest from or you received dividends from. Or, if you're a small business, make sure you have good, accurate record-keeping; make sure you deduct everything that you're entitled to."

Mennenga said keeping good records of deductible expenses all year long is the best way to prepare for filling out the annual tax return. Many people just throw all their receipts in a shoebox or file drawer, and then have to spend hours sorting it all out at tax time.

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