Top Five Tax Resolutions for 2011

How are you doing on that New Year's resolution? Gained, rather than lost, those few extra pounds? Well, it's time to double-down on resolutions now that the IRS tax deadline has passed.

Here's a list of top 5 tax resolutions for 2011 designed to get you in shape for next year's tax return. It may not shrink your waistline, but it's designed to get your wallet and finances in tip-top shape.

1. Set Up a 2011 Tax File

"For some clients, just getting their materials in one place can help a lot to capture deductions and reduce their tax prep bill if their accountant charges for hourly work," Michelle Fait, a financial adviser and enrolled agent with Satori Financial in Seattle, Wash., said in an email interview.

Delia Fernandez, a certified financial planner with Fernandez Financial Advisory in Los Alamitos, Calif., suggests that taxpayers save electronic receipts from their online payments by creating PDFs and saving them in a desktop tax folder.

Or, consider using personal financial software like Quicken to track expenses and keep things organized for your taxes throughout the year, Jim Holtzman, a certified public accountant with Legend Financial Advisors in Pittsburgh, said in an email interview.

And resolve to keep track of all written acknowledgments from charities regarding your donations to their organizations, since rules around charitable giving have become more rigorous, Fait says.

2. Review Your Tax Withholding

"If you had a big tax bill, or a large refund, consider changing your withholding to avoid another unpleasant surprise next year, or to free up cash flow during the year if you have been in a regular refund situation," says Fait.

Personal financial advisers know that reducing your withholding can be tough for some folks who are used to the big pop from that yearly refund check. In some cases, notes Fernandez, it's a good twin-evil twin approach to saving. But remember: A big refund means you've given an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam. Wouldn't you rather have saved the cash yourself?

3. Don't Miss Out on Roth IRAs

Although a Roth IRA does not provide a tax deduction, it does allow contributions to grow tax free. And later in life, that will aid your efforts to maximize your retirement income. Fernandez recommends Roth IRAs for people looking for additional places to save money outside of their company retirement plans, or for young folks who don't have a company and aren't interested in committing to a regular IRA.

"A lot of my clients, people who have extra money, such as an inheritance, would like to do something smarter long-term with that money," says Fernandez.

4. Pay Off Credit Card Debt
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Credit card debt, if not paid off monthly, is evil, says Fernandez, who formerly worked at credit rating agency TRW Credit Reports. She noted that over the years, banks have changed the game to where they raise a credit card holder's interest rate if they become delinquent on a card payment.

"They are doing nothing for you in terms of tax benefits, only providing a drag on your future," stresses Fait.

5. Become a Regular Saver

"Like New Year's resolutions to lose weight, after about mid-February, most of the newbies at the gym have returned to their couches. Taking the time now to set up regular automatic savings strategies will help clients stay with their program," Fait advises.

Resolve to save regularly, even if it's only $25 a week -- start now, and that small amount would add up to $925, plus interest, by the end of the year.

Fernandez noted there are several online savings accounts that consumers can sign up for that require no minimum balance, such as Ally Financial's online savings account, which pays a 1% annual percentage yield, or SmartyPig, an online interest-bearing savings account tied to saving for a specific goal. When SmartyPig customers then withdraw that savings to make their desired purchases, if they use a SmartyPig Cash Rewards Card at one of the program's affiliated retailers or vendors, they can gain cash-back bonuses similar to those from a credit card rewards program.

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Handsome Gary

Roth IRA's are a blessing. Patient steady Virtue of Thrift is well rewarded in a Roth IRA. I wish the Roth IRA existed 30 years ago. In Colonial times, a common wisdom saying was "Save and Have." I was raised on the maxim "Waste not, Want not." Everyone should start a Roth IRA no matter how small the start.

April 20 2011 at 12:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wes Andersen

Pot. Wow such a bad thing. I don't use but am in favor of legal pot. Why? Money makes the world go round folks and pot is a money treasure. Tax it, grow it by our own farmers, free up jail space for real bad guys and stop the killing at the border with silly chit. Save billions of $ and use to fight real crime. Pot is less dangerous than beer guys and those who wish to smoke it do it anyway. Why spend billions instead of making $ from it. Time to grow up falks. We can use half the tax to fight hard drugs. It will be good foe the economey.

April 19 2011 at 9:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adele

In case you wonder where our tax money goes... wonder no more.
The Lunatic Fringe takes our tax money and uses it to beat us up.


Rightwing "Charities and Non Profits" that get Tax Payers Money from Grants.


All these Non Profits provide control of the press and use Taxpayer money from Grants to do it.....

.

American Family Associatio­­n they got $ 19,233,560 Million Dollars last year that is $82,777, 894 Million Dollar in the last 5 years.



Heritage Foundation got $ 63, 910, 593 Million Dollar last year that is $ 190, 085,156 Million Dollars in the last 5 Years !!!!



American Enterprise Institute got $58,988,98­­4 Million Dollars in 2008 and over $208,974,9­­89 MILLION DOLLARS the last 7 years!!



New America Foundation got $15,201,36­­7 Million Dollar and over $58,531,48­­0 Million Dollars the last 5 years!!



Pat Robertson’­­s American Center for Law and Justice got $13,291,86­­5 Million Dollars last year that is $ 57,586,400 Million Dollars the last 5 years !!!!



Pat Robertson and the 700 Club got $ 183,000,00­­0 Million Dollars last year that is $843,340,5­­45 Million Dollars in the last 5 years !!!



American Legislativ­­e Exchange Council –$27,229,3­­72 Million Dollars in 2009 and $37,134,80­­8 Million Dollars the last 7 years.



Young American’s Foundation ---2008- $20,396,34­­8 Million Dollars and $99.978,49­­8 Million Dollars the last 7 years ! Like these people claim a Baby Blanket cost $450.00 on their return.



Church World Services got $68, 971,520 Million Dollars and $384,552,3­26 Million Dollars over 5 years!!!!



.

April 19 2011 at 7:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Adele's comment
orbit7777

I notice that you didn't list the "lunatic fringe" liberals and their outfits that are scamming the American people.

April 20 2011 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scottee

both parties in congress LOVE that we citizens are bickering over taxes because then we don't notice their spending.

April 19 2011 at 6:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to scottee's comment
Scottilla

Enough with the "interest free loan to the government." If you keep $3,000 in a savings account you get what, about $13 in interest? I'd never be able to save $3,000 unless it was out of sight and out of mind. Let the government keep the $13 and give me $3,000 at the end of the year to put into my IRA.

April 19 2011 at 3:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jamestcap

My taxes are straitforward and only an hour or so to prepare, but the $^#!)*&=?>+@ records I have to keep to pull them together drive me nuts. But of course that's what the politiicians want, nutty people to keep voting them back into office. I think it's a plot.

April 19 2011 at 3:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
amfnvf

It is the Super Rich & the Corporations that are controling everything. How dumb can working people be to keep voting for Republicans who have never done anything for the working guy and only take care of the rich!

April 19 2011 at 3:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to amfnvf's comment
RALPH SEARS

What a bunch of CRAP. The first trip to the gas station takes the savings. The trip to buy groceries takes whats left. Who told you that you have legitimate imformation anyway. Get a different job.

April 19 2011 at 2:10 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Adele

MOZARTADEL 0 minutes ago

The Lunatic Fringe does not even use their own money in their effort to destroy this country.


Rightwing "Charities and Non Profits" that get Tax Payers Money from Grants.


All these Non Profits provide control of the press and use Taxpayer money from Grants to do it.....

.

American Family Associatio­­n they got $ 19,233,560 Million Dollars last year that is $82,777, 894 Million Dollar in the last 5 years.



Heritage Foundation got $ 63, 910, 593 Million Dollar last year that is $ 190, 085,156 Million Dollars in the last 5 Years !!!!



American Enterprise Institute got $58,988,98­­4 Million Dollars in 2008 and over $208,974,9­­89 MILLION DOLLARS the last 7 years!!



New America Foundation got $15,201,36­­7 Million Dollar and over $58,531,48­­0 Million Dollars the last 5 years!!



Pat Robertson’­­s American Center for Law and Justice got $13,291,86­­5 Million Dollars last year that is $ 57,586,400 Million Dollars the last 5 years !!!!



Pat Robertson and the 700 Club got $ 183,000,00­­0 Million Dollars last year that is $843,340,5­­45 Million Dollars in the last 5 years !!!



American Legislativ­­e Exchange Council –$27,229,3­­72 Million Dollars in 2009 and $37,134,80­­8 Million Dollars the last 7 years.



Young American’s Foundation ---2008- $20,396,34­­8 Million Dollars and $99.978,49­­8 Million Dollars the last 7 years ! Like these people claim a Baby Blanket cost $450.00 on their return.



Church World Services got $68, 971,520 Million Dollars and $384,552,3­26 Million Dollars over 5 years!!!!

April 19 2011 at 1:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Adele's comment
billsuruncle

Adele, wise up!...you're a member of the "lunatic fringe".

April 19 2011 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
crafashion.com gucci

good i liek it

April 19 2011 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply