NEW YORK (TheStreet ) -- As we count off the final days of 2014, it might be wise for taxpayers to take last-minute steps now to lower the amount they'll have to fork over to Uncle Sam in April.
Tax-loss selling, charitable donations, and IRA and Roth IRA contributions are among the moves that can shrink that bloated tax bill. But many of these tax-lowering steps must be taken before the ball drops on New Year's Eve.
Taxable accounts need the most scrutiny, said Dan Neiman, partner and portfolio manager at Neiman Funds and investment advisory firm, Independent Solutions Wealth Management, which have more than $400 million in assets under management.
Start by examining the account's short-term and long-term gains and losses for the year.
"Find out what their long-term and short-term capital gains consequences have been for the year so far," he said. "Some people pay attention to those things through the year and some don't."
If there are losses, then this is an opportunity to take profits by selling shares in some high-flying stocks or mutual funds without facing a tax burden. "A lot of people are afraid of the tax consequence, but if you've had a good year and met your goals and have some tax losses, then there's no harm in taking some of those profits," said Neiman.
If the investor is already facing capital gains, then it might be wise to sell some of the duds. For retail investors, this decision is sometimes tough.