Ah, yes. It's time again for those last-minute maneuvers that may actually improve your tax position for 1992. Act quickly. Don't put off until January a corporate expenditure that you can afford to make today. Here are some other opportunities:

* Inventory. If inventory items strike you as unsalable, either donate them to a charitable organization (see "Charitable Donations with a Big Payoff," Financial Strategies, May 1991, [Article link]) or take a write-down. But in order to qualify for a tax deduction in 1992, you'll have to act quickly. On a donation the deadline is December 31; on an inventory write-down, "you'll have to offer the item for sale at a reduced price within 30 days of your new inventory valuation, which also must be made before year's end," warns Eileen O'Connor of the Washington tax office of Grant Thornton.

* Bonuses and other perquisites. You can deduct payments for salary, bonuses, or loans to insiders as long as you stick to some strict guidelines. Payments to so-called related parties (referring to corporate ownership) must be made before December 31; meanwhile, payments to unrelated parties can be made as late as March 15, 1993, to be deductible for 1992. O'Connor explains the difference: "In a C corporation, anyone who owns more than 50% of the stock qualifies as a related party. In an S corporation, anyone who owns any stock at all, no matter how little, is considered related."

-- Jill Andresky Fraser