Like businesses, individuals often can reduce their tax bills by deferring income and accelerating deductions. To defer income, for example, you might ask your employer to pay your year-end bonus in early 2015. And to accelerate deductions, you might pay certain property taxes early or increase your IRA or qualified retirement plan contributions to the extent that they’ll be deductible. Such contributions also provide some planning flexibility because you can make 2014 contributions to IRAs, and certain other retirement plans, after the end of the year.

Remember that, when you use a credit card to pay expenses or make charitable contributions this year, you can deduct them on your 2014 return even if you don’t pay your bill until next year.

Other year-end tax planning strategies to consider include:

Investment Planning

If you’ve sold stocks or other investments at a gain this year — or plan to do so — consider offsetting those gains by selling some of your poorly performing investments at a loss.

Reducing capital gains is particularly important if you’re subject to the net investment income tax (NIIT), which applies to taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) over $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers). The NIIT is an additional 3.8% tax on the lesser of 1) your net income from capital gains, dividends, taxable interest and certain other sources, or 2) the amount by which your MAGI exceeds the threshold.

In addition to reducing your net investment income by generating capital losses, you may have opportunities to bring your MAGI below the threshold by deferring income or accelerating deductions.

Charitable Planning

If you plan to make charitable donations, consider donating highly appreciated stock or other assets rather than cash. This strategy is particularly effective if you own appreciated stock you’d like to sell but you don’t have any losses to offset the gains. Donating stock to charity allows you to dispose of the stock without triggering capital gains taxes, while still claiming a charitable deduction. Then you can take the cash you’d planned to donate and reinvest it in other securities.

Expired Tax Breaks

Keep an eye on Congress. If certain expired tax breaks are extended before the end of the year, you may have some last-minute planning opportunities. Expired provisions include tax-free IRA distributions to charity for taxpayers age 70½ and older, the deduction for state and local sales taxes, the above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses, and the credit for energy efficient appliances.

Plan Now to Implement in Time

Most strategies for reducing your 2014 tax bill must be implemented by the end of the year, so it’s a good idea to start planning now. Uncertainty surrounding the fate of expired tax breaks complicates matters, so contact your tax advisor to develop contingency plans for dealing with whatever tax legislation is signed into law.