PORTLAND - With just five days until 2012, besides thinking about how you'll ring in the New Year, now is the time to think about how to save on your 2011 tax bill.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to donate in the eleventh hour is at any of the many charities in the metro area.
We expect 72 million pounds this year, a worldwide record, said Dale Emanuel, spokesperson for Goodwill.
During the last week of the year, Goodwill receives most of its donations. So far donations are up 5 percent over a year ago. But, it's only a deduction if you itemize your return. And you'll have to keep track of what you donate plus the fair market value.
We invite you to go to your neighborhood Goodwill, look for like items you have donated or might donate and check out the price tag , Emanuel said. Those tax credits end December 31,2011.
Tax expert April Gutierrez, owner of Pacific Northwest Tax Services, pointed out, if you've been putting off buying an energy efficient washing machine, dishwasher or refrigerator, now may be the time.
Oregon and the federal government both have credits that people could be taking advantage of, and especially in Oregon, they often don't take advantage of because they simply don't they exist , said Gutierrez.
One way to maximize a donation is to make one to a listed charity with the Oregon Cultural Trust. For example, make a $200 donation and then a matching one to the trust.
You would be able to claim a $400 deduction on your federal tax return and you would get a $200 credit back on Oregon, noted Gutierrez.
And if you are a member of a non-profit organization like the Portland Art museum, you can deduct the membership fee, up to $75.
As for school teachers, all those supplies they purchase every year, there is a deduction for that.
There is a $250 deduction that teachers get for purchasing supplies used in the classroom, said Gutierrez.
But, perhaps the most important thing to remember as you think about your taxes, is to keep good records.
Guess what happens if you're missing a record?Bye bye deduction, said Gutierrez..
To find out all of the deductions you have coming to you, check out IRS publication 17 and for Oregon, publication 17.5.