As the year winds down and holiday anticipation builds, tax professionals are performing their annual rituals of getting ready for tax return season by checking supplies, test-driving software, training additional staff and packaging year-end planning tips for their clients."It's never too late for tax planning," said New York-based CPA Marc Albaum. "You've got until the ball drops to take action, and if you do it later than that, then you've got an early start for 2008."

The most important deadline for taxes is the month of December, not April, agreed Edward R. Marcum, tax practice leader at Clifton Gunderson LLP, a Midwestern-based regional accounting firm. "This is your last opportunity to plan, strategize and execute on tax minimization."

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