Tool$ Tuesday: Tips For Tax Day

BY Paul Solman  April 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM EST

Tax day is breathing down our necks: just under one week left to file. And that’s including this year’s three-day extension; tax day bumped from the traditional April 15th to the 18th since DC government workers are off Friday (the 15th) in observance of Emancipation Day.

If you’re one of millions yet to file, we’ve sifted through the flood of web tax info and compiled a short list of advice, tricks and how-to’s that might prove helpful, or at least amusing.

Last-Minute Tax Tips

These four tips from Marketplace are short and to the point.

Tax Tips for Unemployed Workers

This one-minure video from the Wall Street Journal is full of advice on what to do if you’re unemployed. Ad alert: You have to sit through a half-minute commercial. If you prefer not to, here’s the “spoiler alert”: you may be allowed to deduct costs related to your job search; you do have to pay income tax on severance payments or unemployment benefits.

Quiz: Which item was successfully deducted?

Wondering if you can deduct food for the cat? A fallout shelter? Clarinet lessons for your kid? Tax payers have attempted to deduct all sorts of improbable expenses. The punchline: some have succeeded. This quirky quiz from CNNMoney let’s you guess which deductions were allowed. A pleasant distraction from actually filling out the forms that may also suggest deductions you hadn’t thought of.

How to file an extension with the IRS

Need more time to get your taxes in order, make sure you’re claiming all possible deductions, or just procrastinate more in the face of life’s more pressing anxieties? This easy-to-understand explainer from ConsumerReports.org will show you how to get an extension. Not anxiety-provoking at all.

Tax Tips for 2011

As for official advice, go directly to the source: the IRS. With their Tax Tips for 2011, the Internal Revenue Service site covers a wide range of topics, including facts about amended returns and best practices for managing your tax records.

Want to talk to an IRS agent directly? Call 1-800-829-1040 if you’ve got questions about your personal return or 1-800-829-4933 for a business return.

Anything we missed? Do let us know.