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With the holidays approaching, reviewing investment strategies and preparing for tax season is the last thing on many people's minds.

But the end of the year is a good time to begin assessing the current tax year as well as short- and long-term goals, according to Suzanne M. Bradshaw, financial adviser for Edward Jones in Eldersburg.

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"We realize it's mid-November, but it's a good time to get those things done," she said.

Bradshaw and Donya Oneto, a certified public accountant in Sykesville, will give a presentation Friday at the Eldersburg branch of the Carroll County Public Library regarding end-of-the-year financial strategies. The presentation is the third in a series of "Money Talks" by Bradshaw.

The event will consist of general information presented by Bradshaw and Oneto followed by an opportunity for questions and discussion. Past topics included building investment income and the basics of stocks.

Oneto said one of the most important things taxpayers can begin doing at this point in the year is organizing their files.

"You can't effectively plan and make good decisions when you're looking for a piece of paper," she said.

Taxpayers should be aware of what they have earned and spent throughout the year.

"I'm big into the planning process because it helps everyone," Oneto said.

She said she has planning meetings with clients from July through the end of November because after Dec. 1, schedules get hectic for everyone.

"The biggest mistake I see people make is not worrying about these things until the last minute," she said.

Because the talks are held during the day, Bradshaw said most people in attendance are retired and looking for advice on managing and maintaining their assets.

In the current economic climate, Bradshaw said she advises investors to be careful with their portfolios, and Friday she will detail some risky areas to avoid right now.

As far as taxes are concerned, Bradshaw said she and Oneto will discuss the importance of taking the proper required minimum distribution from an individual retirement account when more than 70-and-a-half years old. Failure to take the proper minimum distribution can have penalties.

Taxpayers of any age should be planning for the end of the year, Bradshaw said, including setting up meetings with their financial advisers and accountants.

"You hate for someone to have something on the table that they could have taken advantage of and they didn't," she said.

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Oneto said people should also meet with their accountants to avoid being surprised by a large tax liabilities. Though the amount owed can't be changed significantly at this point in the year, taxpayers can begin to find ways to pay what is owed by April.

Donald Hull, president of Hull Company Accountants Inc. in Westminster, said that if someone has had a year with lots of personal expenses, it's a good idea to sit down with an accountant before the end of December.

"Everyone should be looking for possible deductions," he said.

David Hemler, a certified financial planner and owner of Hemler Financial Group in Westminster, said those who are employed should be aware of what their employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), offers and take full advantage of the amount that the employer will match.

"That is free money, and there are still Americans who don't take advantage of that," he said.

Anyone who wishes to save more money for retirement and is able should also look into the options for an individual retirement account, Hemler said. In most cases, contributions for this year can be made up until taxes are due in April.

Bradshaw said people should not put off making appointments to discuss financial issues or finding the right adviser.

"I think there's a financial adviser out there for everyone," she said.

That financial planning is not necessary unless a person has a small fortune is a major misconception, she said.

"Their nest egg is their nest egg, whether it's large or small," she said.

Reach staff writer Heather Cobun at 410-857-7898 or email heather.cobun@carrollcountytimes.com.

If you go

What: Monthly Money Talks: End of Year Tax Strategies

When: 9:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 14

Where: Eldersburg branch of Carroll County Public Library

More information: To register, contact Edward Jones in Eldersburg at (410) 549-1829 or visit the library website at library.carr.org

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