Few days left to boost tax refund

Posted at 5:12 PM, Dec 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-27 21:49:53-05

San Diegans spent 2016 paying some of the nation's highest taxes, but there is now an opportunity to get more of that money back.

Every year, Del Mar resident Alisa Beyer donates old goods to charity.

"They come get everything from clothes to pots and pans, furniture, anything that you can't really use, and it's great to share it with people who need it," said Beyer.

Beyer's good deeds also mean an extra tax break from Uncle Sam, just before the calendar turns.

Charitable donations are not the only way some San Diegans can boost their tax refunds.

San Diegans who bought new cars in 2016 can write off the sales tax. Plus, they can deduct some losses from stocks they sell this year.

Those who own a home can pay the second installment of their property taxes now -- instead of waiting until the February deadline -- to get a bigger refund in early 2017.

Some college students and their parents can pay next semester's tuition before New Year's Day and then get some of it back.

"But you have to pay it up front, so you have to decide," Beyer said.

Greg McBride, Bankrate's chief financial analyst, said the extra payments can make an incremental difference in tax refunds.

"It pays to think about these things today rather than this time next week, because that's the difference," he said. "If you take these actions now, it makes an incremental difference on taxes you're going to file in a couple months. If you wait until next week to think about things, it's not going to make a difference for another 14 months."

Beyer said she's got about $2,000 back with all her donations, but it's not like she splurges.

"We have three kids in private school," she said. "So it usually just gets plowed back into whatever you're doing."