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Tax Time Tips & Tricks

It's a scene that too many people repeat every year: sitting at your desk on April 14, hunched over a pile of papers and forms, trying to make heads or tails of your taxes before the filing deadline.

With 87 pages of instructions to guide you through filling out a two-page 1040 tax form, it's no surprise that working through taxes is a challenge. For investors, it's even more complicated. You have to keep dividends and interest income straight, calculate capital gains and losses, and make sure you get all the deductions, credits, and exemptions you're entitled to in order to pay as little tax as possible.

A little help from your friends
That's where The Motley Fool comes in. This year, we're launching our Tax Time Tips & Tricks area to help you get through the tax preparation ordeal -- and hopefully save a little money in the process.

We've come up with something for everyone, so whether you're filing your first tax return or have a lifetime of experience paying taxes, you'll find something useful for your own situation. For beginners, we go through the basics of taxation. We'll show you ideas on how everyone can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their taxes. We'll also take a look at specific areas that may be of particular interest to you, such as the tax breaks available to families. And if you're worried that you might get hounded by the IRS, our tax experts will walk you through a survival guide for an IRS audit.

Looking down the road
But we're not planning to part ways come April 16. One common way people can save on their taxes is by opening an IRA. Since the deadline for contributing happens to be the same as the deadline for filing your taxes, many people open IRAs at tax time.

Since an IRA can give your retirement nest egg a 15% boost (or even more) before you even start investing, it's a tool we think everyone should use. We'll give you ideas on how to make the most of your IRA, including great investments that work particularly well in retirement accounts.

For instance, IRAs are a great place to put investments that create a lot of tax liability. That includes real estate investment trusts (REITs) like Acadia Realty (NYSE: AKR  ) , Annaly Capital (NYSE: NLY  ) , and Public Storage (NYSE: PSA  ) , whose dividends are taxed at higher rates than regular stocks. High-yielding dividend payers like Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) , Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) , and DuPont (NYSE: DD  ) also do well in an IRA.

Planning a successful retirement
Once you've opened an IRA, we'll show you how to work this new retirement account into your overall retirement planning. And we'll talk about more than IRAs. With the help of retirement specialists from the Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter, you'll get a sneak peek at how to deal with the many financial issues you'll face in retirement, from soaring health-care costs to making the most of Social Security.

So when you need a break from poring through tax forms, come to The Motley Fool's Tax Time Tips & Tricks area for some timely advice. You'll be glad you did!


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Dan Caplinger
TMFGalagan

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on Fool.com. With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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