The tax man comes around, even in the worst of economic times. So it's time to review year-end tax tips. We've got a rundown of IRS changes from last year, and friendly advice for avoiding audits.
2008 changes. Every year brings headaches in figuring out what rules have changed. This Kiplinger page notes a lot of them, and they could be good news: "For starters, tax brackets, personal exemptions and standard deductions have been adjusted for inflation." Also, "First-time home buyers get extra help from Uncle Sam."
Avoid audits. There's no way to guarantee you won't be audited, but here are some tips for people who would like to avoid such pain. In this Allbusiness.com article for small businesses, practical suggestions include advice to answer all questions on your tax return, and use exact figures rather than "nice round numbers."
Uncle Sam. The Internal Revenue Service has a surprisingly useful Web site, where you can search for answers to the most arcane questions, find forms, read the official rules, and review how to avoid tax penalties and identity theft.
Daily tips. Sign up for an e-mail newsletter from Kiplinger. You'll get year-end tax tips daily through Dec. 20, and then daily tax-season tips during the spring.
Entrepreneur tips. A few key tips for small-business operators are listed at Entrepreneur.com. Special new write-offs for business equipment could save you a bundle, but beware the alternative minimum tax.
Skipped year. Did you run out this year to install insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, or a new heater to reduce fuel costs? Too bad. Those home upgrades would have won you a tax credit if you'd done them in 2007, and Congress renewed the credit for 2009, but you're out of luck for such improvements done in 2008. Check it out here: