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4 merry tax moves to make in May

Maypole_Dancing_on_Village_Green_Paul-Barnett-WikimediaCommons_geograph.org.uk-1628839
Children celebrate May Day by dancing around a maypole on the Village Green in Tewin, near Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England. (Photo by Paul Barnett via Wikimedia Commons)

Happy May Day! It's the annual May 1 global holiday celebrating the contributions of workers.

But the other mayday often comes to mind when taxes are involved.

If it's a tax distress signal you're sending out as the merry month of May begins, here are some moves that could help ease your tax trepidations.

1. File your 2018 return.
If last month you didn't file your 2018 tax return, either because you got an extension or you neglected to send the Internal Revenue Service a Form 1040, do that. Now.

If you didn't file anything or, more importantly, didn't pay any due tax, Uncle Sam has been racking up penalty and interest charges since April 16 (or the 18th for Maine and Massachusetts filers). Getting a return in ASAP will stop those charges.

Even if you officially got more time to file, just because you have until Oct. 15 to finish your taxes doesn't mean you should keep procrastinating. The sooner you get this tax task off your plate, the more time you'll have to do other, probably more fun, things in this merry month of May and the rest of the summer.

2. Find a camp for your kids.
School will be done in a few weeks and that means that unless you find a way to keep your children occupied, they'll be underfoot. Day camps are great ways to keep them entertained and often educated.

Even better, if you and, if your married, your spouse work, you can count day camp costs in claiming the Child and Dependent Care tax credit. There are income limits, but some parental taxpayers could get a credit — which is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of any tax owed — of up to $1,050 to look after one child or up to $2,100 if two are more kids are involved.

3. Get ready for a mean Mother Nature.
Severe weather can strike year-round, but right now we're in that time of year when dangerous, tornado-spawning thunderstorms are popping — some  did their worst right around last month's tax deadline day — and the tropics with their hurricanes are heating up. Get ready now.

This means not only buying supplies to help you weather potential bad weather, but knowing how the tax code might be able to help if you're in a storm's path. When you're hit by a major natural disaster, you still can claim your uninsured, unreimbursed losses on your taxes. You also can decide which year to use, either the one in which the disaster actually occurred or the prior year.

Pick the year that will give you the best tax result and possibly a quicker refund that you can put toward recovery efforts. You can find more on preparing for, recovering from and even helping out storm victims on the ol' blog's special tax-related (of course!) Natural Disasters Resources pages.

4. Make refund adjustments.
The 2019 tax filing season was the first under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes. Unfortunately for many filers, this meant that they didn't get the refunds they were expecting. Some saw their annual tax check shrink. Others, to their dismay, ended up paying Uncle Sam on Tax Day.

If either tax situation happened to you, you need to adjust your withholding ASAP.

May_tax_moves_160More May tax moves: Tweaking your withholding to get the type of refund you want or more in your paychecks throughout the rest of 2019 is the first item mentioned in the May Tax Moves over in the ol' blog's right-hand column.

Just as every month, the monthly tax to-do list starts under the red Tax Moves image, which itself is just below the countdown clock ticking off the remaining filing extension days, hours, minutes and, yes, seconds.

I know May is a busy month, what with transitioning from spring to full-blown summer and all the end-of-school and family vacation plans to be made. But take a little time to give the pieces of tax advice in this post and the sidebar a look.

One or more of the May Tax Moves could help you start trimming your 2019 tax bill now. And that should make the rest of the year and next filing season very merry, too.

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