10 Surprising Tax Preparation Tips

Give Generously
When you donate to a charity, make sure you get a receipt if you want to deduct that generosity at tax time. ©iStock/Thinkstock

As Santa's bells ring outside stores during the holidays, drop your change in the red bucket, and then consider other creative ways to make donations to charity that may also help lower your tax bill. Many organizations will take your old car, for example, often whether it runs or not. This way, you get an eyesore out of the yard while writing off the fair market value of said wreck.

You can also donate stocks or mutual funds if you have held them for more than one year. Look on this as a way to rebalance your portfolio by getting rid of investments that don't fit your goals -- and you won't have to pay capital gains taxes once the stocks or mutual funds appreciate either [source: Bell].