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4 tax moves to make this October

Updated Oct. 6, 2023, to reflect added Hurricane Ian tax relief and new filing deadline.

Jack O Lantern family

Before you and your family celebrate Halloween, check out these October tax moves.

Your calendar isn't wrong. We're already into the first week of October, the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year.

Once you get through repeating (like me) "Already?", it's time for the annual fall push.

Between picking out your Halloween outfit and locating a secure hiding place for the holiday treats that your family can't find, it's time to make some tax moves.

Here are four tax tasks that you need to check out this October.

1. File your 2020 tax return. Are you one of the estimated, and record-breaking, 19 million taxpayers who asked the Internal Revenue Service for an extension to file your 2021 tax return? Your procrastinating time is running out. The deadline is Monday, Oct. 17. Yes, that's a couple of days later, since the normal Oct. 15 filing extension due day this year is on Saturday.

If your adjusted gross income is $73,000 or less, you can use the IRS' Free File to finish and electronically submit your Form 1040. This year, eight tax software companies are available through Oct. 17 to help you meet your filing obligation.

2. Make sure Oct. 17 is your extended filing deadline. Or don't file yet. That's an option for some taxpayers whom the IRS has given even more time.

Of course, their added postponement reason is not one any of us would want. They've endured major disasters this year.

People who've been through a major disaster also usually are provided extra time to file. That's the case for some individuals and business owners in the wakes of major disasters so far this year.

The box below lists the dates for eight states and two territories, along with links for more information, where some residents have more time to file.

Nov. 15, 2022, for


Feb. 15, 2023, for

If you're dealing with a natural disaster, you can find more in my post on claiming disaster losses, as well as in IRS Publication 547; at the IRS' Tax Relief in Disaster Situations special web page (click on the 2022 link for latest disaster/tax news); and the ol' blog's Storm Warnings collection.

Also, members of the military serving in combat zones can get an extra 180 days from their last day in those dangerous areas to file their tax returns. You can get more information at the IRS web page on combat zone service extended deadlines and IRS Publication 3, Armed Forces Guide to Taxes.

3. Get ready for cold weather. I'm a nester, so my first thoughts of autumn and approaching cooler weather is to get my house in shape. The brutal winter storm of February 2021 notwithstanding, Central Texas winters generally are mild. So my focus is a lot of window caulking and our annual heating system checkup.

But if you live in an area where Old Man Winter likes to drop by for longer stays, now is the time to get ready for those visits. The tax code might be able to help here.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the Biden Administration's revised economic and tax package that became law on Aug. 16, resurrected some residential energy related tax breaks that had expired at the end of 2021. Now, you can still get a 10 percent tax credit for replacing drafty portals with new energy-efficient windows and doors, as well as roofing.

If you need more winterization help, for example, a new furnace going into this winter, the revived credit provides help in installing a new energy-efficient system.

Note, however, that the prior lifetime limits on the tax breaks also were brought back for 2022. But if you never took advantage of the home energy tax credits earlier and need to do some work this year, be sure to claim the credit.

And you need to evaluate your home's needs and what can be delayed. If the weather allows you to wait out the final few months of 2022, some even better residential energy tax benefits will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

You can read more on the renewed-for-2022 residential energy tax breaks in my earlier post on green energy tax credits. The White House also has a special CleanEnergy.gov website with more on the Inflation Reduction Act's home energy provisions (and more). Also check out EnergyStar.gov for details on Uncle Sam's current federal tax credits and other incentives to save energy.

4. Review your workplace benefits. Fall also is workplace benefits enrollment season. In some cases, just letting your current employer-provided benefits roll over into the next year works well. But if your life or finances have changed, you might want to tweak your coverage.

Companies offer their workers myriad perks, many with tax advantages. Among the most popular are 401(k) retirement plans, high deductible health plans and associated health savings accounts, and health care flexible spending accounts for traditional workplace medical coverage.

Make sure you get the most out these plans and their tax benefits. Review what you have, what's changed in your life, how your company's offerings have changed, and do so well before the deadline to choose next year's benefits. My post on tax-smart workplace benefits enrollment has some tips.

Other October tax moves: If any of these actions or deadlines apply to you, make them this month. And definitely by the appropriate deadline(s).

And if you're looking for more October Tax Moves, you can find some over in the ol' blog's right column. This month's list is in its usual place, noted by the bright read headline just under the digital clock counting down to the even closer Oct. 17 extended filing deadline.

Once you get these tax tasks out of the way, then you can use the rest of the month to get ready for the spookiest All Hallow's Eve celebration ever.



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