On the Money

Give now, push income out until later: Tips for curbing your tax bill

Taxing questions

Paying taxes isn't necessarily top of mind as the holidays approach, but more than likely, paying for gifts is.

So is there enough time to make smart tax moves that could save you money as 2016 ends, and tax filing season approaches?

"Plenty of time. With three weeks left to go, you have several options in front of you," explained Mark Steber, chief tax officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Services. Steber told CNBC's "On the Money" he expects tax rates to decrease next year with the prospect of broad tax reform.

Incoming President-elect Donald Trump ran on a promise to simplify the tax code. Trump has said he wants to reduce the individual tax brackets from seven to three: 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent.

"This year with all the Trump talk of lowering taxes next year and this year probably being a higher tax year, you want to go conventional wisdom," Steber told CNBC. "Push your income to next year [and] accelerate deductions this year."

He suggested making charitable donations or contributions during this taxable year, and education costs are another tax consideration.

"If you've got children in higher education, you may want to pay winter semester tuition and fees before January 1st," he said, when the new tax year will begin.

As for other deductions, "the selling of the loss stocks is always a great one," Steber said. "If you had some stock losers in 2016, "it might be a good year to unload those and pull those losses into this year."

Conversely, "if you've got (stock) gains, perhaps push those to next year. "

Steber also suggested deferring as much of your income as you can to 2017. "If you believe the (tax) rates are going down under President-elect Trump's plan, that would be an absolute great strategy."

Those expecting a year-end bonus could have a choice when they get the money. "If you can control that bonus, perhaps, move that to next year. And for self-employed people, you might bill right after the first of the year. "

Beyond paying taxes, if you're planning to file early and expecting a quick refund, Steber says 20 to 30 million taxpayers may have to wait a few weeks longer than usual in 2017.

"There was a new law change that says for anyone who gets an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), the government is going to hold those refunds until February 15th," Steber explained.

The PATH (Protect Americans from Tax Hikes) Act was passed last year to give the IRS time to review W2 data with the goal of reducing fraud and identity theft.

As for an every year tax tip, Steber added you should always max out your retirement contributions to your retirement accounts, like an IRA and 401(K). This year that limit is $18,000 for 401(K) and $5,500 for traditional and Roth IRAs.

On the Money airs on CNBC Saturday at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.