Today, let's talk about some specific ideas for those who itemize deductions.
If you make quarterly payments of estimated state income tax, pay the Jan. 15 installment in late December so you can take the deduction on your 1982 federal return.
If you pay real estate property tax yourself (rather than having it paid from an escrow account by the mortgage holder) you may be able to move the first-half 1983 payment back into 1982.
You should consider paying by Dec. 31 pledges for 1983 contributions to your church or synagogue or other religious or charitable organization.
(If you don't itemize, you can still deduct 25 percent of up to $100 in charitable contributions made in 1982. The same ceiling will apply for 1983, then it goes up in 1984 and later years through 1986, when this special provision is scheduled to end.)
You can accelerate into 1982 the payment of anticipated medical bills like scheduled orthodontic work, regular sessions with a psychiatrist or a series of allergy desensitizing shots. The date for elective surgery -- or at least for payment -- may be shifted to fit your tax situation.
This year there is an additional benefit to be gained by moving up medical expenses. Such expenses in excess of three percent of adjusted gross income qualify as a Schedule A deduction.
But starting in 1983 the exclusion goes up to 5 percent, so you may be able to claim a deduction in 1982 that wouldn't even be counted if payment were to be made in 1983.
Incidentally, if you charge a payment on a bank credit card in 1982, it goes on your 1982 tax return even if you're not billed, and don't pay the charge, until 1983.
Regardless of the new tax rules, if you don't expect to itemize in 1982 try to defer all payments that qualify for itemizing. Such payments would provide no tax benefit this year, but changing circumstances in 1983 might make itemizing attractive, so it pays to hold off on potential deductions.
If you're an investor, you should be reviewing your portfolio to see if there are any desirable actions to be taken before the end of the year.
But be careful -- don't let a possible tax saving cloud your investment judgment. Although tax impact should certainly be a factor, it should not be the primary consideration when making buy-sell-hold decisions.
As a general rule it is best to take capital losses in the current year and postpone gains to the next year. This strategy is reinforced by the fact that 1983 tax rates will be lower than 1982 rates.
There are a couple of rules to know about. If you want to sell a stock for tax purposes but plan to buy it back later, remember that a "wash sale"--purchase of the same security within 30 days before or after its sale -- bars you from claiming any tax advantage.
There was no change in the rule for determining long-term vs. short-term. Ownership of an asset for one year or less creates a short-term gain or loss; the holding period for long-term is anything greater than one year. If investment conditions permit, shoot for long-term gains and short-term losses.
As the end of the year approaches, watch the dates carefully. A securities transaction that generates a loss is effective on the trading date, so you have until Friday, Dec. 31 to order the sale.
But a capital gain is not realized until the settlement date. If you're trading on an organized exchange, settlement date is normally five business days after the trade.
That means that you'll have to order a sale for gain not later than Thursday, Dec. 23, if you want it to show up on your 1982 tax return. (The markets will be closed the 24th for the Christmas holiday.)
If these ideas suggest things you might do to ease your 1982 tax burden, get moving now. Don't wait until the hectic days of the year-end holiday season, when you might just pass up a chance to save.