By Dinah Wisenberg Brin, special to CNBC.com
NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- Taxpayers looking for ways to trim their 2011 tax bill, or simply to avoid unpleasant surprises when they file their returns, have a few weeks to make potentially helpful, money-saving moves. Whether it's buying a needed energy-efficient heating system, donating stocks that have appreciated, or increasing 401k contributions, taxpayers can take a number of steps by Dec. 31 to make for happier 2011 returns come filing time. "If you're going to have a big tax bill due in April I'd like to know about it now so you can plan for it," says Melissa Labant, tax manager at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). She suggests taxpayers use a free withholding calculator on the irs.gov Web site. (
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