Remember when your mother scolded you for running up the stairs two steps at a time? "Slow down," she would say. "You're going to trip and hurt yourself." Taking it step by step will get you there almost as quickly with much less chance of a painful fall.

As usual, mom was right.  And her wise words are just as applicable to your tax filing tasks.

When the tax filing deadline nears, folks tend to rush through returns. That's a bad idea, since you're more likely to make mistakes or overlook tax breaks, both of which could cost you some serious tax dollars.

But by approaching your tax filing one step at a time and spending around an hour a day on taxes for the next seven days, you can complete your annual taxes in just a week. Here's the Bankrate plan.

  1. Gather data.
  2. Examine exemptions, etc.
  3. Decide on your deductions.
  4. Find your forms.
  5. Count your credits.
  6. Fill out your forms.
  7. Sign, seal and deliver.

Even better, by spreading out the duties you'll save your sanity, good humor and maybe a little tax money, too. So click to the next slide to get started with the first day's tasks.

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