Last-minute tax tips to ease headaches

LOS ANGELES You probably have an idea of what you have to do to file your taxes, and at this late date there are only a few things you can do to save some money. So let's just keep you from making mistakes that could get you audited, or at the very least keep you from having to file more than once.

Filing your taxes is such a hassle, especially when you know you have to pay. But the hassle eases up a bit when you're organized. So here are the most common documents you're going to need:

  • W-2 forms: This is your wage statement from your employer
  • 1099 forms: These show any interest and dividend income
  • Form 1098: The statement showing mortgage interest you've paid
  • Your 2006 tax returns: You need both your federal and state
  • Check register and credit card statements

Once you start filling out your forms, make sure you put your social security number on all pages - including the check if you have to pay - in case they get separated. Double check your math. Attach all required schedules. And don't forget to sign your form and date it.

And yes, there are a couple of things you can do now to cut your tax bill:

  • Pad your retirement. You can fund an IRA for 2007 right up until Tuesday. The max is $4,000 or $5,000 if you are 50-years-old or older.
  • Itemize deductions. Sixty-three percent of taxpayers don't itemize, but a government study shows those who itemize on average pay $438 less in taxes.
  • Look for losses. Did you lose in the stock market last year? Losses can become deductible.

As a last resort, if you do have to file an extension, you must do it by Apr. 15. But keep in mind that an extension to file is not an extension to pay. If you are going to owe taxes when you finally get your return done, you need to come up with the money - or a close estimate of it - when you ask for the filing extension.

For more information:

California Society of CPAs

Yahoo! Finance

H&R Block

The Motley Fool

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)



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