As the holidays approach, millions of Canadian are doing last-minute shopping. That doesn't leave much time to think about their upcoming tax return. But they should, according to Cleo Hamel, a senior tax analyst with H&R Block Canada.

Canadians can make a big difference on their next tax return just by following these five simple tips before the end of 2011.

1. Review your taxable income

  • Cashing an RRSP is counted as income and you may face a tax bill. If you are thinking of doing it, you may want to wait until January.
  • For EI, the tax withholdings may not be enough to cover your tax bill. Remember, this includes maternity benefits.
  • If you sold a property or worked two jobs, ask about your tax obligations and how you may be able to reduce your tax bill.

2. Review your accounts

  • TFSA withdrawals made before Dec. 31, 2011 means you get the contribution room back in 2012.
  • Make contributions to your RESP before Dec. 31 to get the Canada Savings Education Grant.
  • If you experienced a capital gain in 2011, you may want to sell a money-losing stock to help reduce your tax obligations.

3. Be Charitable

  • Donating more than $200 creates a bigger tax savings.
  • Donate publicly-traded shares to avoid capital gains and get a tax receipt.

4. Dec. 31 is the deadline

  • The end of this month determines your marital status and province of residence.
  • Dec. 31 is also the deadline for charitable donations and medical expenses.
  • After Dec. 31, your options for your taxes are only RRSPs.

5. Get Organized

  • Don't wait until April 30 to find your paperwork.
  • Ask for your receipts for the Children's Fitness Credit and the new Children's Arts Credit now.
  • Keep everything in one central location