Make Filing Your Taxes Less Painful and Less Costly -- Savings Experiment

How to Save on Taxes
How to Save on Taxes

For many Americans, filing tax returns is one of the year's most arduous chores, right up there with, say, having a root canal. And while procrastinators have an extra three days to file their taxes this year -- Tax Day has been pushed back to April 18 -- that isn't going to make the task any easier.

Beyond the drudgery and confusion associated with the task, there's the worry over how much money you'll need to shell out to get the fattest refund possible -- that is, if you're due one -- and whether it makes sense to go it alone or hire a pro to help you out.

To help take some of the guesswork out of the process, here's the lowdown on how to avoid some of the most costly mistakes you can make when doing your taxes yourself, a roundup of affordable (and sometimes free) online software options and tips on how to find a tax professional that suits your needs -- and budget.