News Column

Last Call for Tax Tips

March 27, 2008

Rick Munarriz

Tax forms

With the tax filing deadline now just two weeks away, I figured that I would chime in with one final round of tax tips to see you through to April 15, 2008.

1. Don't Procrastinate
If you've read this far -- hungry for last-minute tax saving tips -- you probably haven't filed your return yet. There's a good chance that you haven't even started preparing your return just yet.

What are you doing? If there is any chance that you stand to be on the receiving end of a check from Uncle Sam, delaying your return only delays your refund. You are also required to file in order to qualify for the economic stimulus plan rebate checks that will begin going out in May.

Even if you think that you're not due a refund for the 2007 calendar year, there is no harm in preparing your 1040 as early as possible to make sure. The last thing you want is to find yourself scrambling for a form or paperwork you thought you had as the hourglass runs dry. Prepare now, even if means that you will be sending in your return and your payment closer to the April 15 deadline.

2. There Is No Harm In Double Checking Your Return
You like your accountant. The two of you have chummy since Little League baseball, or maybe she's your cousin. I can respect that, but it doesn't mean that you can't benefit from getting a second opinion.

Tax software packages are pretty cheap. You can get copies of Turbo Tax or Tax Cut for as little as $20. Some do-it-yourself websites even offer the ability to prepare taxes online for free. Even if you prefer to talk to a trained pro in dissecting your taxable events, going for a software-based session may open up a few deduction possibilities that a human accountant may have missed.

3. Know Your Deductions
You won't find a respectable tax advisor suggesting that you should exaggerate your deductions. That should never be mistaken for the importance of scouring to make sure that you account for all of your legitimate write-downs.

Did you take advantage of the Fed's hand in easing rates to refinance your home? Are you a teacher who incurred out-of-pocket expenses for school supplies? Did you make non-cash donations to your favorite charity? Did you have to move for work-related reasons?

These are just some of the questions that may lead to deductions that will rightfully eat away at your tax bill. As long as you qualify for the markdowns, you'll just be leaving money on the table if you don't maximize your deductions.

4. Step Into The IRA Era
2007 may feel as if it was three months away, but funding your IRA is one of the few tax saving moves that you can still make, all the way up to the tax filing deadline.

If you qualify, traditional and Roth IRAs offer opportunities to either reduce your tax bill today or in the future. Retirement may be the furthest thing from your mind as you file your tax return, but it's never too early for a little retirement planning.

Rick Munarriz is a personal finance columnist for He has written for sites such as The Motley Fool and Citysearch and has appeared on NPR, TechTV, Sirius Satellite Radio, and CNN en Espaņol. He can be reached through where he discusses his latest articles.

Source: (c) Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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