The 1040 is due April 17. You can get an extension until October 15, but you should be pretty much paid in by then. With Iowa's economy improving, that means many entrepreneurs will be writing a check to the government. Many of them are wondering whether there is anything they still can do to lower the 2011 tax bill.
Most of the good tax planning opportunities for 2011 ended when the year did. If you are a solo operator -- if you don't have employees -- a Simplified Employee Pension still might be a big moneysaver for you. These plans allow solo owners to put up to 20% of their business income away for retirement and deduct the contribution. It's a deduction for taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another -- though to be sure, it has to stay in the other pocket until retirement on pain of early withdrawal penalties.
SEPs are the easiest form of qualified plan to set up. All you have to do is set up an IRA with your friendly community banker and sign (but not file) Form 5305-SEP by the tax deadline. If you don't extend your return, you have to fund your contribution by the deadline, but if you extend, you can wait until October 17.
The drawback of a SEP is that all employees have to have the same percentage of income contributed. As you add employees, that can be an expensive way to reduce your taxes. That's why bigger businesses usually switch to traditional profit-sharing plans, which have more flexible vesting and more ability to discriminate among classes of employees. But in this age of independents, the SEP can be a great mulligan for your 2011 tax planning. Heck, if it's good enough for the President, maybe it's good enough for you! Of course, consult your tax advisor first.