It's too late to make that last tax-deductible donation or to make other carefully calculated tax-deductible expenditures, but there are still a lot of things you can do to save time and money this filing year. Here are a few ideas:
1. Make sure you have the right form. On the last day of the 2006 session, Congress extended three tax breaks, but the IRS printed its forms ahead of time — without the extensions. If you're taking one of the tax breaks — deducting your sales tax if you live in a state without income tax, for example — get a supplemental form at www.irs.gov.
2. Get automated. Use TurboTax Premier Investments, the latest version of the makers of the popular TurboTax program. Its Cost Basis Expert will help calculate capital gains and losses, automatically calculating capital gains and losses and finding your cost basis; and a 401(k) Maximizer will help you figure out ways to increase your 401(k) contribution without decreasing your take-home pay.
3. Split your refund. This year, for the first time, the IRS will deposit your refund directly in up to three accounts. Split it between your savings account and checking account if you want, or throw some extra in your brokerage or mutual fund account.
4. Dump it in your IRA. Also new this year, you can directly deposit all or part of your federal income tax refund into your IRA or your spouse's IRA, if you file jointly. If you never see it, you're probably a lot less likely to spend it. Of course, the IRS can't help you decide exactly how to invest it — you'll have to tune into the Cost of Freedom business shows for help with that.
**COUNTDOWN TO APRIL 15! Every Wednesday in March, we'll provide you with useful tax tips for saving money and time — so keep checking back at FOX Fan Central.
Leigh Gallagher is a senior writer for SmartMoney magazine and a regular on "Cavuto on Business".
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