4. Standard deductions make for quick filings. If your financial life isn't a complicated one -- you don't pay interest on a home mortgage, you don't make large charitable contributions, etc. -- you can get your taxes done quickly by filing for a standard deduction instead of itemizing deductions.
For 2009 returns, the standard deduction for single individuals is $5,700; for married couples, it's $11,400. Additional standard deductions apply for those over age 65 and the blind.
5. Don't forget the new real estate tax deduction. There's a new standard tax deduction for homeowners. They can add a standard deduction of up to $1,000 if they pay real estate taxes. This will prove especially beneficial to homeowners who have paid off their mortgages and don't deduct mortgage interest payments from their taxes.
And, if you were a first-time home buyer in 2009, you may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a principal residence and a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified repeat home buyers.
6. Deduct job-hunting expenses. If you were laid off in the past year, most of the expenses incurred while looking for a job can be deducted from your taxes, so carefully track these expenses. For example, any money you spent on creating and mailing your resume is deductible.
You can also deduct expenditures for career coaches and headhunters. You can even deduct long distance or cell phone charges related to the job search, as well as travel expenses incurred for interviews, including mileage.
7. More easy-to-miss deductions and credits. Parents who paid their children's college tuition in 2009 can deduct up to $4,000; teachers who paid for books or other classroom supplies can deduct up to $250; and if you bought a hybrid car or truck, you're eligible for a conservation tax credit of between $250 and $1,000. Depending on the make of your new car, you could also get a fuel economy credit of $400 to $2,400.
8. 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).
9. 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 2009? That interest income should be reported too.
10. Take advantage of a tax payment plan. In this recession, unfortunately, many Americas don't have enough money to put food on their tables, let alone pay the IRS. There is a payment plan option, but it comes with several strings: You may qualify if your tax bill is less than $25,000 and can be paid off within five years.