It's not too late to save money on your 2011 taxes

Friday - 12/16/2011, 11:32am EST

Ed Zurndorfer, registered benefit consultant

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By Michael O'Connell
@moconnellWFED
Web Editor
Federal News Radio

The year is coming to an end and that means tax season is right around the corner. Registered benefit consultant Ed Zurndorfer shared some tax tips for federal employees with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris.

"I call it tax diversification," Zurndorfer said. "The first way is through something called tax-deductible. If you itemize on your income taxes and you make charitable contributions, the money you contribute to a legitimate charity will be tax deductible."

Employees can make donations by cash or check or by donating goods. In order to obtain a tax deduction for 2011, contributions must be made no later than Dec. 31. Donations of goods also need to be picked up by the same date. If you don't have cash on hand, you can make a donation in 2011 using your credit card and then pay for it in 2012. Credit card interest is not deductible.

Another way for people who don't itemize to save money on their taxes is to maximize their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contributions. "Most federal agencies, I think, have at least one more pay date left this month," Zurndorfer said. "All federal employees are allowed to contribute a maximum of $16,500 to the TSP for 2011 and they have up to their final pay date to contribute."

One thing to remember about charitable contributions is that the IRS requires a receipt at the time of filing. "You don't have to send in your receipt, but in case you get audited, the IRS will only allow a deduction if you have a receipt for any type of contribution that you made to a charity," he said.

Although the tax rates will be the same in 2012 as they are in 2011, some tax revisions will be expiring at the end of December unless Congress renews them. Zurndorfer has posted a list of Individual Tax Provisions that expire this year and next, along with tax increases for 2013 on his website.

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