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Avoid tax turkeys! Check out November Tax Moves

I'm a little slow posting today. I had to go vote.

Have you been to your polling place yet? If not, you need to get out and make your voice heard. Most polling stations are open until 7 p.m. local time.


Not only is public participation at the polls key to our democracy, it's also an important tax move for voters in some states.

State tax questions on some ballots: Here in Texas, we're deciding on three tax initiatives. The biggie is a proposal to hike the residential homestead property tax exemption from $15,000 to $25,000.

Most eyes, however, are on Colorado, where marijuana related taxes are again going before the electorate. Ohioans also will vote on whether the Buckeye State will become the fifth state to legalize recreational pot and, if so, how to tax it.

In addition to statewide ballot measures, some cities and counties also are asking for voter input on those more local taxes. Make sure you give it to them.

Even if you don't have a tax matter to decide today, once you get back from your polling place it's still a good time to look at some other November Tax Moves you should consider.

The month is just underway and we did, after all, get an extra hour thanks to falling back on the 1st to Standard Time.

Decide about deductions: And speaking of standards, as we head into the last two months of the year, you should have a good idea as to whether you're going to itemize tax deductions on your 2015 return or claim the standard deduction.

Most people take the standard route, especially since those deduction amounts typically are bumped up a bit each year thanks to inflation.

If, however, you'll itemize, start looking at those allowable expenses now and make sure you have the receipts. You usually aren't required to submit them with your filing, but you'll need the documentation if the Internal Revenue Service ever asks any questions about your Schedule A claims.

It's much easier to collect those receipts now, well before you start messing with your 1040, than trying to track them down or recreate them at filing -- or audit -- time.

Extra job, extra tax issues: November also when a lot of folks get a seasonal job, either as their main source of income or as a way to pocket a bit of extra cash for holiday spending.

The holiday season hiring outlook remains good. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas expects U.S. retailers to add around 755,000 seasonal hires to their payrolls, about the same as 2014. Many of those will be with some of the country's biggest stores.

If you do land a seasonal job, pay attention to how you're paid.

If you're a contractor instead of an employee, you must take care of paying estimated income and the self-employment taxes that are usually withheld from employees' paychecks.

Stock survey: Investing in the stock market is not for the faint of heart. It continues to be a challenging and often terrifying roller coaster ride.

I know how tempting it is to ignore the ups and downs, and that's usually a good idea if you're secure in your financial plan and are in it for the long haul. But when it comes to taxes, you need to reassess your holdings, particularity as the year winds down.

If you've had some investments that have done well, you might want to sell them while they're up. The good news is that if you've owned them for more than a year, you'll owe long-term capital gains tax on the profit, which typically is lower than your ordinary income tax rate.

And if you've had some holdings tank, sorry. But these, too, could be useful at tax time. The losing stocks could help offset any taxable gains you've had this year. This will reduce your potential overall tax bill.

Thanksgiving, not tax, turkeys: These are just a few suggested tax actions to take this month.

November_ tax_ moves_160You'll find more November Tax Moves in the ol' blog's right column, under the bright red heading of the same name, just below the countdown clock ticking off the time left in the 2015 tax year.

Check them out early this month.

That way, when Turkey Day does arrive, you can focus on that traditional bird -- and your family, friends and football! -- and not worry about any tax turkeys that could trip you up and cost you at filing time.


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