The last few months of the year may have everyone thinking about holiday cheer and pumpkin pies, but it's also prime time for investors to put tax-planning strategies into place that can help reduce their liability for 2013.
Indeed, Dec. 31 marks the cutoff date for delaying income, accelerating deductions, gifting appreciated assets and dumping investment dogs for the current filing year.
Such moves, however, require careful consideration of an investor's current and projected financial picture, said Melissa Labant, the director of tax advocacy for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Labant, a CPA, is also a certified financial planner.
"Anywhere from September through November, taxpayers should be thinking about year-end (tax) planning," she said. "To be able to plan ahead, you have to know where you are."
(Read more: Year-end financial checklist)
The advice is even more crucial this year for high-income earners, said Labant, who pointed out that the Bush-era tax cuts expired this year for those in the highest tax brackets.
For 2013, married couples filing jointly with taxable income greater than $450,000 will face a new 39.6 percent top marginal income tax rate, plus a bump to 20 percent, up from 15 percent, on qualified dividend and long-term capital gains.
Joint filers earning more than $250,000 will also be subject to a new 3.8 percent Medicare surtax on net investment income.
"Taxpayers tend to look at their liability for prior years and assume that it will be the same for the current year, but when you have a year with significant tax law changes you can't assume your tax bill will stay the same," Labant said.
Taxpayers looking to keep more of their money from Uncle Sam this year need to start with a forecast, said John Napolitano, chairman of U.S. Wealth Management in Braintree, Mass.