THE BLOG
03/23/2011 03:18 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Tax Saving Tips for Procrastinating Filers

With just a few weeks left to go, millions of taxpayers are scrambling to meet the April tax deadline. If you're among them, you're not alone. An estimated 27 percent of taxpayers wait until the last two weeks to file their return. This year, there's some good news for all the procrastinators out there, an extra three days to file your federal taxes. The federal tax deadline is Monday, April 18 instead of April 15. Double check with your state as not all state tax deadlines are the same. For those who are waiting until the last minute, there's still time to reduce your 2010 tax bill. Here are a few things to remember:
  • Go online. Taxpayers can go online to prepare and e-file taxes up to the last minute. Online tax preparation is fast, easy and convenient (my company, Intuit, sells one such online product, TurboTax)
  • E-file your return. You avoid long lines at the post office and with direct deposit, get your refund back in as little as eight days.
  • Contribute to your IRA. Even procrastinators can save money on their taxes. Taxpayers have until the April 18 deadline to contribute to an IRA and get a deduction on this year's return.
  • Remember charitable contributions. Cash and in-kind donations made in 2010 are deductible for itemizers. Even mileage to and from volunteering is deductible.
  • Take advantage of higher education tax breaks. Tax credits like The American Opportunity Credit and The Lifetime Learning Credit are available if you or your children were in college in 2010 - don't miss the potential tax savings available to you.
  • Don't just take the standard deduction if you think you're running out of time. It may be worth more to itemize. Software programs like TurboTax can compare both and help you decide which is best for you.
  • Need more time? Taxpayers can get an extra six months to file (until Oct. 17, 2011). But remember, an extension to file, is not an extension to pay your tax bill. Individuals still need to send the IRS a payment for taxes owed, within 90 percent accuracy, to avoid late penalties.
  • What if you can't pay? You're not alone. Taxpayers who can't pay the full amount they owe can ask for a streamlined installment plan. You may qualify for a streamlined plan as long as you don't owe more than25,000, and you must be able to pay your tax bill off within five years. See here.
These simple tips can provide even the most procrastinating taxpayer with real savings on their 2010 tax bill. Despite the temptation to put off taxes until the very last minute, the clock is ticking so it's time to get going. Spending a few minutes to take advantage of any of these tips can help you get big savings on your tax return.

As vice president for consumer advocacy for Intuit's TurboTax business, Bob Meighan works with customers to help ensure TurboTax products meet their needs. A Certified Public Accountant, Meighan holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina.