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Financial Moves to Make Now

"If you used any of the proceeds for something other than physical improvements to your home, that amount may be subject to the AMT," he says. "On the brighter side, remember that points paid in prior refinancings that you didn't already deduct can be deducted in the year you refinanced again."

If you suffered losses in 2009, there may also be a silver lining. You can use capital losses to offset taxable capital gains, plus up to $3,000 in ordinary income ($1,500 for married couples filing separately). Look in your taxable accounts for investments with relatively large losses where you don't expect a comeback. Any losses you can't use to offset gains this year can be carried over into future tax years.

Be sure to stay clear of the so-called "wash sale rule," which prohibits taxpayers from recognizing losses on sales of securities that are repurchased within 30 days. If your investments rebounded, taking your profits in 2009 may make sense. The maximum capital gains rate, now at 28%, is likely to increase by 2010 or 2011.

-- Reported by Joe Mont in Boston

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