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Weather claims, estimated taxes and more June tax tasks

Texas is finally drying out.

For millions of Texans, the extraordinarily wet May was welcome. Rivers are running again and many Lone Star State lakes are finally full(er) after years of drought.

After the Trinity River came out of its banks, the herd in the video above was safely moved to higher, drier land thanks in part to an impromptu cattle drive through the small town of Dayton, Texas.

But in other cases, there was no escape from raging water. Several areas in Texas, Oklahoma and other Plains States suffered the deadly side of Mother Nature.

Tax help for disaster losses: The tax code offers some relief for some natural disaster victims. Losses sustained from all types of catastrophes, either natural or man-made, can be claimed as itemized casualty losses on Schedule A.

When those losses are from a major natural disaster, which is declared by the president and managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you get some leeway on when to claim the damages.

You can file the tax loss claim on your taxes in the year they occurred. For the tornado and flood damages this year, that would be in 2016 when you file your 2015 return.

Or, in the case of a major disaster, you can claim the losses on your prior year's tax return. In this case, this would be on your 2014 taxes.

If filing an amended 2014 return would get you a refund or a bigger refund than you when you originally filed, send in that 1040X now and get the money to use toward repairs sooner.

More mundane tax tasks: While tax considerations are important for storm victims, there also are other more run-of-the-mill tax tasks that other taxpayers should consider this month.

Take payroll withholding. We're through five months of 2015 now, so we should have a good idea of what our tax situation is. If it's similar to last year and you got a huge refund or owed the Internal Revenue Service a boatload of money, give your payroll office a new W-4 to adjust your withholding. The IRS even has an online calculator to help you fill out the form more accurately.

You also should change the number of allowances that affect how much income tax is taken out of your paychecks if your life has changed dramatically this year.

Did you get married? Buy a house? Have a child? All of those things could affect your eventual tax bill. So that you won't be surprised at tax-filing time next year, tweak your withholding now.

Extra filing deadline: A lot of folks work full-time for themselves (me!), have side jobs to supplement their salaried positions, or are wise investors raking in beaucoup dividends and capital gains earnings.

In all these cases, we need to make estimated tax payments. The second one for 2015 is due June 15.

You can make this upcoming estimated payment by snail mailing your check and 1040-ES voucher, paying by credit or debit card or going totally electronic via Direct Pay or Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS.

If you miss the deadline, you could find yourself facing estimated tax penalties when you file your annual return.

More June tax issues: These are just a few of the tax matters to take care of this month. You can find more tax tasks in the June Tax Moves listed in the ol' blog's column there to the right, under the bright red heading of the same name.

Don't be alarmed by how many there are. Some might not apply to you.

But for those tax moves that do fit your lifestyle, check them out. They could help lower your coming IRS bill.

And they shouldn't cut too much into the start of your summer vacation.


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