I wish you a Merry Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas, I wish you a Merry Chrissssssssssst-mas — and a Happy New Year!

I would also point out that if you never quite get to itemize your deductions — or if you do itemize, but for barely more than the standard deduction would have entitled you to anyway — you might want to think about the old bunch-things-up-every-second-year strategy. Stop! Don’t send out those charitable gifts this week — send them January 1, 1998. Stop! Don’t pay your property tax this week — pay it January 1. Then at the end of 1998, do make your charitable gifts and pay your taxes before the end of the year. For 1998, you’ll have double the deductions you normally have and might thus get more of a tax break. In 1999, you’d take the standard deduction. In 2000, you’d double-bunch again. And so on. (Naturally, you wouldn’t delay paying property or state income taxes where penalties would be involved.)

Let me be quick to say this idea does society no good whatsoever. But it seems harmless enough, and if it ultimately saved you $1,000 in taxes every second year, I say: Merry Christmas.


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