This year, pay both your state and federal taxes online -- and do it free or for a small fee.
E-filing can limit the errors you make in your own filing and get your returns back to you sooner. Checks are built into the software, helping to reduce the possibility of costing yourself deserved money or a call from the IRS, while direct deposit can be set up to get you your money back in as little as 10 days.
Parents can save hundreds -- or even thousands -- of dollars on their tax bill if they know where to look for savings.
This is possible by taking part in tax-advantaged college savings plans, as well as tax breaks available for students.
College tuition and fees at public four-year institutions rose 6.6% last year, far outstripping inflation, according to the College Board. So it's important to take advantage of any education-related tax break for which you qualify -- both before your children enter college and after the tuition bills start rolling in.
1. File Electronically
Americans are catching on to the benefits of filing electronically, according to David Bergstein, CPA, a CCH tax analyst. Taxpayers have filed more than 38 million tax returns electronically so far this tax year, compared to 36 million this time in 2007. The greatest growth in e-filing is from individuals using home computers, he says.
Relying on snail mail can be just as much of a mistake during the electronic era as adding incorrectly, says Mark Steber, vice president of tax resources for
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service
in Parsippany, N.J. "It's more accurate and there are many safeguards built into the e-filing process," he says.
By now, every parent has heard that their children might entitle them to an additional $300 apiece when the payments, or rebates as they are popularly called, are calculated. But some parents have discovered a distressing fact about their kids' tax-rebate eligibility.
Only youngsters that qualify for the Child Tax Credit count toward the stimulus bonus. That essentially rules out most college kids and some high schoolers.
Myth No. 1. You make too much/not enough to contribute to get tax advantages from a traditional IRA.
Wrong. As long as you're employed, you make just the right amount.
You may earn too much to deduct your contributions, says James J. Holtzman an adviser with Pittsburgh-based Legend Financial Advisors, but there's no income cap on contributing to traditional IRAs. And, no matter your income, all earnings on the account are tax deferred, which make IRAs an attractive investment vehicle.
But be aware, though you'll qualify for a traditional IRA, if your income is above six figures, you may not be eligible for a Roth IRA. And some people who are unemployed may be eligible to contribute if their spouse is employed.
For more tax strategies, check out the TheStreet.com's Taxes section.
This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.