My first question to you is if you itemize? If not the charitable contributions will not do any good. Along these lines, donating unused items to Goodwill or similar can help boost your charitable giving.
The bottom line is that the 401K is one of the few real deductions high earners have. If you anticipate earning similarly next year, you could both contribute the max. You still have some time before the end of the year, can you get more in your wife's account?
Does your state have income tax? You might be able to deduct sales tax for larger purchases if you made any. However, I would not justify a large purchase just to write off the sales tax.
Conventional wisdom will tell you that you should have a large mortgage in order to deduct the interests. However, it does not make sense to pay the bank 10K so you can get 3K back from the government. That seems pretty dumb.
If you did not do additional withholding, you probably will have to pay a significant amount plus penalty if you owe more than $1000. You still have time to make one more quarterly payment, so you may want to do so by January 15th.
For next year I would recommend the following:
- Estimate your earnings and tax owed and add additional withholding, to minimize the pain
- Both of you contribute the max to the 401K
- Give more. $500 at your income level is pretty paltry.
The funny thing about giving is that it rarely helps the recipient, it does so much more for the giver. It helps you build wealth.
For myself I like to give to charities that have a bent to helping people out of poverty or homelessness. We have two excellent ones here in Orlando, FL: Orlando Rescue Mission and Christian Help. Both have significant job training and budgeting programs.