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5 tax moves to make in September 2018

Autumn Leaves first color_Jonathan Bloy at bloynet
Trees in September will see their first fall color. (Photo by Jonathan Bloy courtesy Bloy.net)

Hello, September. It's nice to have you back. You are a month that offers mostly-welcome transitions.

There are beginnings, as students start a new school year. Parents nationwide say "thank you!"

There are endings, as summer gives way to fall's cooler temps and foliage changes. Those of us tired of heat waves want to know what took you so long!?!

There are expectations, as the end of the year and its many holidays approach. It's never too early to start planning for these. My Christmas decorations go up as soon as I hand out the last piece of trick-or-treat candy (no kidding!).

Tax planning time, too: It's the same with taxes.

There are the new tax laws, like a revised child tax credit and dependent tax break, as well as a new small business 199A deduction, that will affect many 2018 filings.

There are old tax provisions that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) killed, like exemptions, miscellaneous business expenses and relocation costs, or restructured, like the limit on deductions of state and local taxes.

And there are the expectations that we'll be able to make all the correct moves to ensure that we get the best benefits from the tax code, both its old and new provisions.

To help with your tax goals, here are five moves to make in September.

1. File your 2017 taxes: Each year, millions of taxpayers put off their April tax return task and get an additional six months to fill out and send in their 1040 forms. That's not a bad move if you were awaiting more documents or the deadline sneaked up on you.

But why wait until the absolutely final Oct. 15 due date nears to file? You'll be in no better position than you were almost five months ago. Getting that annoying paperwork out of the way now.

If you qualify for Free File, the online no-cost tax prep and e-filing option is still available.

2. Adjust your withholding: Regardless of when you file last year's return, take note of your tax bill. Did you owe a lot? Or did you get back a larger than expected refund?

Either instance is an indication that you should reevaluate your payroll withholding. And that's especially true this year, since new tax provisions could affect what you owe or get back from Uncle Sam next filing season.

Such paycheck checkups are particularly important for families, thanks to the TCJA changes that apply here, as well as for folks who rely on sharing economy income, which can fluctuate.

3. Make your third estimated tax payment: Those gig workers are among the taxpayers who need to make estimated tax payments.

The third 1040-ES payment for the 2018 tax year is due on Sept. 17. Yes, it's two days later because the usual Sept. 15 deadline is on Saturday this year.

Whether you're a veteran estimated tax filer or new to the process, the table below is a good reminder of the annual deadlines and the income periods they cover.

Payment

Due Date*

For income received in

1

April 15

Jan. 1 through March 31

2

June 15

April 1 through May 31

3

Sept. 15

June 1 through Aug. 31

4

Jan. 15 of next year

Sept. 1 through Dec. 31

*If the 15th is on weekend or federal holiday, the estimated payment is due the next business day.

You also can find more in my earlier post with the scoop on filing estimated taxes.

4. Do your education tax breaks homework: Kids are back in classrooms across the country, but they're not the only ones who need to do some homework. Parents should check out the tax code can help cover some educational expenses.

The new tax laws did, and didn't, affect many tax breaks for education.

The changes apply, among other things, to how 529 plan money can be spent (more options), home equity loans for school costs (that interest is no longer deductible) and popular tax breaks like the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning credits (both are unchanged).

You can find more on these and other school-related tax breaks in look at 8 ways the new tax law does — and doesn't — affect paying school costs.

5. Watch the weather: After last year's devastating Hurricane Harvey, the relatively slow 2018 hurricane season has been a welcome relief. But that could quickly change.

September is the business month for tropical storms and 'canes. Mother Nature reminded us of that with Frances circulating in the Atlantic and Gordon making waves in the Gulf of Mexico as this month began.

Be careful and mostly be prepared.

If you live in a hurricane prone area — and realistically, that's just about anywhere given the way storms move inland — you need to get ready now for a possible hit. The ol' blog's special Natural Disasters Resources page can help.

And remember, the TCJA now limits who can apply for tax relief in connection with a disaster. Now only damages from presidentially-declared major disasters can be claimed as an itemized deduction.

More monthly moves: The items discussed here are just five tax things to think about this month.

September_tax_moves_160You can find more tax strategies in the September Tax Moves list over in the right column, just under the digital clock counting down to the October extended filing deadline.

Some won't apply to your personal tax situation at all. Others, however, might help you make this tax year less costly and the coming filing season go a bit more smoothly.

Check them out and then sit back and enjoy the other, less taxing, changes that September will bring.

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Comments

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poonam


Hi there, simply became aware of your blog thru Google, and located that it’s really informative. I will be grateful for those who continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.


poonam

Thank you for this article. That is good.

Prashant

Tax reform is a nice thing for tax payee but always keep in mind whether those reforms help you out or overburden. So keep update and file always them for reducing the non-taxable amount.

W Burnaby

September is my fav' month for motivation. Time to get some work done. Thanks for the tips. This was much needed!

Henry Montag

Ryan
Very thorough look at some very important deductions and opportunities to save time money and aggravation. I particularly liked your advice about managing your withholding as theres no sense in giving the Govt a interest free loan if you dont have to.

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