Although April seems a long while away, it's time to make important financial decisions affecting your taxes, as claiming certain exemptions, deductions and credits requires action before the end of the year. And this year, there are new factors to consider"”due to recent changes in income tax law"”that may prompt some taxpayers to rethink retirement savings and charitable giving.

Chief among those changes is the newly-enacted Pension Protection Act of 2006, which is the result of a several-year-long effort to shore up unclear benefit plans and provide greater personal savings options for American employees, according to a White House statement released on the day of the signing.

"The most significant change that was made in this law is that anyone over the age of 70.5 can make a donation directly from their [Individual Retirement Account (IRA)] to a public charity, tax free," says Mark Albertz, CPA, of Sharonville-based Albertz and Associates. "This will be appealing to a person who has a well-funded IRA and has plenty of money to live on."

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