By: Jon DelanoBy Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The tax year ends in less than three weeks and that means taxpayers looking to save money on their 2011 tax returns need to take action now.

That’s because once Jan. 1 hits, it’s usually too late to take action when you file that Form 1040.

The key to avoid paying more taxes this year is deferring income you would normally get now until next year.

If you’re getting a year-end bonus, ask your boss to put it off until January.

Are you expecting to get some cash this holiday season? Ask the giver to hold off for a few weeks.

The same income strategy holds true if you’ve been planning to unload some stock or withdraw money from your 401K or IRA. It is best to hold off on doing that now.

Instead, wait until January to sell your stock. That puts off the capital gains tax for another year.

The same is true for taxable withdrawals from your IRAs and 401Ks. Waiting a couple more weeks can save money on your 2011 tax return.

Another key to lowering your taxes for 2011 is to maximize your deductions this year.

For example, if you pay your January home mortgage in December, you can deduct that mortgage interest in 2011.

If you have deductible medical bills, pay them now.

If you are planning to donate to a charity, do it before the year ends.

Some special deductions will expire this year, so double-check these and take them if you can.

Mortgage insurance premiums, now deductible, will not be in 2012. Certain student tuition deductions expire, too, and a tax break for out-of-pocket expenses by teachers will end as well.

Make it a resolution before New Year’s to check with a tax accountant or tax service on ways to reduce your 2011 taxes.

The bottom line is this is a good time of year to be thinking of your own bottom line on that Form 1040.

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