(credit: CBS)

by Barry Steiner CPA (Former IRS agent)

Managing a tax burden has never been more difficult, whether you’re managing your individual tax rates, the rates on your investments, the taxes on your privately held or pass-through business, or the income of executives and shareholders at your company. Lawmakers have been aggressively using the tax code to try to get the economy back on track, and there are now more ways than ever to reduce your tax liability – however, all of them take planning.

4. Better to give than to receive?

Seriously think about giving away appreciated property (like stock shares) to charity so you can deduct the full value without paying capital gains taxes. But avoid donating depreciated property; sell it first and give the proceeds to charity. In this way, you can claim any capital loss and take a charitable deduction at the same time. If you’re age 70 1/2 or older, think about making some charitable donations directly from any traditional IRA funds so that the gift/distribution will not be included in your income. Be sure to double-check limits before making any charitable contributions.

Your Weekly Tax Jokes

“The healthcare reform bill now includes a tanning booth tax of 10 percent. You know what this means? This whole thing could be funded by the cast of ‘Jersey Shore.'” – Jay Leno

“Regis Philbin’s back in prime time, hosting 11 new episodes of ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.’ But because of Obama’s tax plan, it’s been re-titled ‘Who Wants To Win Just Under $250,000.”‘ – Jimmy Fallon

“The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would tax Botox. When Botox users heard this, they were horrified. Well, I think they were horrified. It’s difficult to tell.” – Craig Ferguson

“So, it’s pretty crazy. Look, we’re bailing out Wall Street, we’re bailing out banks, we’re bailing out car companies. In fact, did you know there’s a special box on your tax form this year you can check if you want a portion of your taxes to actually go to running the government?” – Jay Leno

“President Obama has announced a task force to review the tax codes. He’s concerned there are too many loopholes and too many people manipulating the system to avoid paying taxes. And that’s just in his administration.” – Jay Leno

Click here to see previous Tax Tips from Barry R. Steiner. Check back next Wednesday for another free tax tip – one tip for each week of the tax season until April 17th.

Barry R. Steiner is a Chicago-based CPA and former IRS Agent. He’s the author of the best-selling income tax guide “Pay Less Tax Legally” and was a regularly featured guest on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America”. Barry has maintained his own tax practice for the past 40 years, and most recently has authored two e-books: “Infernal Residue” and “Kiss My IRS”. More info at KissMyIRS.com »