The deadline is again April 15 (it was pushed later the past two years because of weekends and holidays). And at least there's a place on this season's 2007 income tax return for all the deductions you're allowed. Last year some filers had to follow procedures improvised by the IRS to claim expired breaks that were reinstated by Congress after returns were printed.
But the ever changing tax code is never to be taken for granted. You can't rest easy even if you hire an accountant or other preparer. "People will end up with a better job if they are at least somewhat knowledgeable about the process," says CPA Edward Mendlowitz, at WithumSmith Brown in New Brunswick, N.J.
A good preparer will ask about your financial and family situation and suggest possible tax-saving approaches, but nothing beats a well-informed client primed with pertinent questions and the documentation to get a preparer rolling, he says. Here are some things to keep in mind as you turn to your taxes:
Tax breaks that are still alive
Back after near death are revived breaks that are still kicking for 2007. Among them are deductions for:
Second-chance phone rebate
After the government acknowledged that it erroneously collected a 3 percent excise tax on long distance phone calls, taxpayers were offered a partial rebate on their 2006 tax return, but the IRS says many eligible taxpayers haven't claimed it.
To still get the rebate you can use form 1040X to file an amended 2006 return. People with low taxable income who weren't required to file a regular 2006 return can seek the rebate with a special simplified form, the 1040EZ-T.
The easiest approach: Accept a settlement of $30 to $60 that requires no phone bills or other documentation.
Index me up
It's easy to forget that important numbers may change because of indexing for inflation.
Among changes for 2007:
Even in a lousy market, tax rewards for owning your home continue—deductions for mortgage interest and property tax and an exclusion from tax for a profitable sale—yes, it still happens. Two breaks starting for 2007 can help the distressed at least a bit: