April 15th seems like a long ways off – but if you start thinking about the tax man now, the pain of filing later might be a whole lot less.

First, make sure you’ve maximized your 401(k), IRA or other tax-deductible retirement plan, or up your contribution now thru December.

If you can’t qualify for a Roth IRA, open up a non-deductible IRA. In 2010, you’ll be able to convert that cash into a Roth IRA and never pay tax on that money again.

Add to your deductions, by contributing more to charity and upping your contribution your child’s 529 college savings plan.

Secure your investment losses and gains now, so you can plan for them. And, plan to make your January mortgage payment in December if you’re going to itemize this year but maybe not next year.

With practical, informative consumer advice, I’m Ilyce Glink, News-Talk 750 WSB