Nine Big Tax Tips for Last-Minute Filers

"A fair number of people," Ochsenschlager said, "will now find taking the standard deduction is better than taking itemized deduction."

Add to your retirement savings quickly and easily. When filing your tax returns electronically, the IRS allows you to designate which accounts it should transfer your refund to. You can opt to have part or all of your refund transferred to your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and, if you think the stock market is near its lows, use the money to quickly buy up some low-priced shares.

Get a last-minute deduction through an IRA contribution. If you are eligible to make tax-deductible IRA contributions -- eligibility depends on your income and whether or not you participate in a pension, 401(k) or similar plans -- it's not too late to have your contribution count for the 2008 tax year: Just contribute before April 15 and specify to your bank or whatever firm holds your IRA that you'd like it be considered a 2008 contribution.

As much as $5,000 of what you contribute (or $6,000 if you're age 50 or older) can be deducted from your taxes.

Don't forget random sources of income. Did you get paid for jury duty? That must be reported in your taxes. Did you have an interest-bearing bank account that you closed sometime in 2008? That interest income should be reported too.

Get organized and pick a good place to work. Before you start, make sure you have all the information you need to properly fill out your tax return -- that includes W-4 forms from your occupations, 1099 forms from banks accounts and investments, and records of anything you plan to use to claim deductions, like medical bills or receipts for charitable contributions.

When you're ready to start preparing your forms, be sure you're doing it in a place where you won't be distracted too easily.

"As with anything else, it requires some concentration and some care and attention on your part to do it correctly," Perlman said. "Perhaps sitting in the middle of the family room with the TV blaring and the dog barking is not the best atmosphere to do your taxes."

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