Over the next few weeks, it will be easy to get lost in the excitement of holiday shopping. But Metro Atlanta tax expert Sonia Millhouse says that sales taxes shouldn’t be the only thing on consumers’ minds.

“Tax season is right around the corner, and that means consumers have until December 31 to make important money-saving moves that could significantly increase their tax refund amounts or reduce their tax liability,” says Millhouse, who works for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service in Union City.

Millhouse lists the top five things to do between now and December 31 to reduce taxable income and increase deductions or credits to claim. These include:

• Think about any life changes you had in 2012 and find out how these may impact your tax return. Many common events, like having a baby or buying a home, can trigger tax credits or deductions.
• Get to know your neighborhood tax preparer. Not only can working with a paid preparer provide you with a better understanding of taxes when filing a 2012 return, it can also put you in a good place for upcoming tax years – especially if you know changes are coming down the road.
• Gather all your tax documents for 2012 and 2011. Having your prior-year tax return on hand may help speed up the filing process this year.
• Make year-end tax moves that reduce taxable income, such as giving to charity, prepaying your January mortgage payment or tuition or increasing your retirement plan contributions.
• Set a target date to file as soon as you can, note it on your calendar – and keep it! Not only can filing early help you get any refund money owed to you at an earlier date, but it may also help safeguard you from identity theft.

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