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No sweeping tax changes this year, but there are new options

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For the first time in three years, taxpayers have a break, sort of. They don't have a sweeping new tax law to figure out. After wrestling with the loftily named Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA) of 1981 and the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) of 1982, people considering end-of-the-year tax moves may wonder if there are any moves left.

There are. Many TEFRA measures did not become effective until this year, and, of course, the tax breaks set up in ERTA are still in effect. Also, the Internal Revenue Service has made some tax points of its own through its rulemaking. So there are some potentially rewarding moves that can be made, if you act before year-end.

You can, for example, take advantage of a recent ruling by the IRS concerning charitable donations made by upper-income taxpayers. As of this Dec. 1, it is possible to set up a ''charitable remainder trust'' and claim a larger deduction than would have been possible before that date.

You can put almost any kind of asset, including stocks, bonds, or real estate , in a charitable remainder trust. You then receive an amount of money annually from the trust, either for a specified number of years or as long as you or your spouse lives. At the end of that period, the assets in the trust are paid to whatever charitable organization you have chosen - a college, church, or other charitable group. This way, you get some of the tax benefits of a charitable donation now while continuing to receive income from it.

For example, a donor might put $100,000 into the trust. A spouse could provide that when he passes on, the widow or widower will receive a $6,000 annuity every year from the trust as long as the survivor lives. When that person passes on, the principal goes to the charity.


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