Weekend Plans Post: Taxes

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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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21 Responses

  1. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    “Which might even be reason to be paranoid about how easy it is now.”

    I’ve heard people say that one of the biggest reasons for the ramp-up of tax code complexity in the ’80s was the proliferation of inexpensive electric calculators that put complicated math within reach of any Senator’s office staff, so they could suddenly figure out how much money they were losing…Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
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      says:

      Yeah, I don’t want to wander into politics at all but it seems to me that all of the incentives lean toward “pay a little too much”. At the end of the day, 40 bucks is less than a dollar a week. Barely noticeable. I could pay for that pretending to be a living statue down at the park during tourist season.

      But you do that for *EVERYBODY*?

      That’s one heck of a salami slice.Report

  2. Avatar Road Scholar
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    says:

    Can I assume you get paid a salary? Like, barring a raise or bonus, you know what you make each week/month/whatever? Yeah, I can see “calibrating” your withholding in that situation, a situation I haven’t enjoyed since I was a sailor for the government.

    I make a different amount of money literally every freaking week. I and don’t mean a little variation either. It can be anywhere from double-ish the average to not enough to cover the health insurance deduction. Which plays hell with the withholding (not to mention budgeting), since the withholding tables/formulas are set up on the assumption that whatever you make this week is what you make every week. And then my wife has a couple part time jobs with variable hours. So we set up her W-4’s for single/0 deps and the nature of progressive taxes means we always get some kind of refund. Like the too much they take out on the good weeks is more than the not enough from the bad weeks*.

    What’s really fun now are the state taxes. I changed jobs from an employer in Arizona that would just deduct for Kansas where I live, to an employer in Illinois which deducts for Illinois and legally can’t (I’m led to understand) deduct for Kansas. So two state tax returns that bounce off one another with Illinois taxing me for Illinois sourced income and Kansas taxing me on everything but allowing a proportional credit for taxes paid to Illinois (but not ALL the Illinois taxes natch).

    So three returns all together, owe a little on the Fed, smallish refunds from both states but only because I sent a check to Kansas last July before I really understood how it all worked. And… it will all be different next year. Oh, fun.

    * The “bad weeks” are generally from being home not driving for a few days so not really bad from a personal perspective.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Road Scholar
      Ignored
      says:

      BTW, I’ve lived in eight different states over the years and every time I moved triggered a pair of part-year resident returns. Every friggin state has somewhat different rules/laws wrt to part-year and non-resident income. And the way the rules for any possible pair of states bounce against each other can get interesting. One year I had to file in three states simultaneously. I couldn’t figure it out and took it to HR Block. They screwed it up. I’m not entirely sure there even was an entirely correct way to do it.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah, I have one of those jobs where my paycheck, week-to-week, is pretty much always the same.

      The only fluctuations come from the occasional raise or the occasional change in the tax code.

      For your story, is TurboTax powerful enough to handle all of the wacky variance?Report

  3. fillyjonk fillyjonk
    Ignored
    says:

    I have an appointment with a CPA next week to drop off all my stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, but my taxes are complicated (I have some inherited investments, more now than last year….) and I am busy and I remember when I was young and more stubborn and frugal, taking all my taxcrap with me on spring break and spending a day or two sitting at my parents’ kitchen table with lots of scratch paper and a calculator and cussing my way through schedules B and D (and in later years, A).

    I used Jackson-Hewett for a couple years until I got someone who was very, very bad there, and did it wrong, and it led to me owing a huge amount more on a return from several years ago (!) and I finally went to the CPA to get it sorted, and he was reasonable (cheaper than Jackson-Hewett!) and he seemed to figure it out so I told him I’d come back come tax time (he recently moved out on his own after being part of a longtime firm here as a junior member).

    Yeah, I don’t know either about J-H. I am assuming because we’re a lower SES area and 90% of the people who go there have very simple returns and are just looking to get their refund fast, that they unleash the less-fully-trained people on us. Anyway, if this CPA does well by me this year, I will continue to go to him instead. It’s worth a couple hundred bucks to me not to have to deal with it.

    I get paid a salary and I do try to calibrate my withholding but since I have the (mostly inherited and set aside to hopefully fund my retirement) investments, some years I have unpredictable capital gains (though not so much of late…) and some years I’ve owed a fair amount, and I’d rather grant the government a free loan than maybe have to scrape through the figurative couch cushions to make my tax bill for the year.

    Plans for this weekend are the same as they are ‘most every weekend now: work on the class material for this new Advanced Biostats class I am teaching. I forgot how much I hated having new from-scratch class preps…I am literally one week ahead of the students at this point and I don’t like that.

    there’s also a recruitment event on campus I managed to *mostly* beg off of for this year, but I am needed to man the “departmental table” for an hour (talk with students, hand out information on the department).

    And there’s a potluck at church but I have that sorted: there is a tex-mex style pot roast I do that takes less than half an hour of involvement time on my part and most people seem to like it, so Saturday I can brown the meat and throw it in the crock pot, and Sunday I can shred the meat and make the onion/Rotel/lime juice sauce that goes over it.

    My birthday is this coming Thursday but of course I have to work; I am hoping I can get enough ahead for the following week in order to be able to take Saturday to do something fun.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to fillyjonk
      Ignored
      says:

      Doesn’t J-H shoulder the burden of the possibility of doing it wrong, though? Like audit protection or something?Report

      • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        yeah, they do, but I wasn’t audited, it was just ‘send in another big chunk of money and you can contest this but be aware if you do, the more time passes, the more interest you will owe” so I didn’t feel like fighting through J-H (they close the local offices in the summer, when all this went down, and I would have had to drive practically to Dallas to meet with someone) and the CPA was available and only charged like $200 to straighten it out.

        J-H did refund the cost of my tax prep that year. But still, I won’t use ’em again.Report

        • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to fillyjonk
          Ignored
          says:

          Also, I’ll note that this was the FIRST crappy thing that happened in 2019 and I was *still* dealing with it (J-H TRIED to fix it the first time but screwed it up worse) in the weeks after my dad died and man, that is just not something anyone wants, to be grieving and also worried that the Feds might “need” you to drain your bank account in order to remain In Good Standing.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David in reply to fillyjonk
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          says:

          When we moved states, it was a year when my wife’s father had passes away in another state (while she was still dealing with her mothers death from nine months before). We just went and found a accountant, who was gracious enough to walk us through the issues we were coming across.

          Real nice and professional guy. And frankly, just talking to someone that matter of fact was reassuring.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to fillyjonk
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          says:

          Yeah… I had one of those things… got a letter from IRS, ran it past my accountant to make sure it wasn’t a scam and basically he said: “They are calculating the value of some stock you sold at a hypothetical number because when you bought it in 2001 TD Ameritrade didn’t keep track of the purchase price… so all you’d have to do is reconstruct the purchase price as it changed over almost 20-years of splits, reverse splits, spin-offs, mergers, and finally being acquired by this other company whose stock you sold.”

          Is that all? Just paid the IRS. (Then paid a “late fee” because apparently paying on the internet is the same as mailing them a check… they only credit your account when their internal processes clear… not when you click [pay now])

          Taxes! Amirite?Report

          • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Marchmaine
            Ignored
            says:

            Yeah, that’s kinda-sorta what happened to me, except my brokerage SUPPLIED the cost basis for the CPA, and yeah, I did still owe the money. (FWIW: this was a schedule K-1, which are hellish to deal with and I was angry my broker talked me into taking that as part of a package of stuff)

            then in like January this year I got another bill for $300 from the IRS. Maybe I am a fool, but I just couldn’t with it then so I just paid it and ate rice and beans for the rest of the month.

            I just hope it doesn’t happen again but I fear there might be some kind of flag on my account now with the IRS 🙁 Like, “This one doesn’t fight back”

            Which is why I’m using a CPA instead of trying to do it myself or hiring one of the shoddy big-box places.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to fillyjonk
              Ignored
              says:

              Yeah… I said to my accountant, “but we supplied them the calculated purchase cost that Quicken tracked over the years.”

              Accountant: “Yes, but Ameritrade e-filed the equivalent of :shrug: and :smiley: emojis… so you now have to show the work that quicken did over the last 20-years to prove your number is more accurate than no number. Its a little bit like you’ve lost your parking garage ticket and while you know you were only there for 2-hrs, the sign says, no ticket = 1 day… you have to prove you were there for 2-hrs.”

              Me: “I don’t know how I’d do that other than point to Quicken and wave my hands.”

              Accountant: “Exactly… you could pay me to retrace all the historical filings … but that would cost about as much as the fine. Maybe more. And its still possible Quicken was wrong and you’ll still owe some money. Not as much as the IRS says… but then you’d still have to add the cost of verifying the original figures.”

              So it was more efficient to pay taxes and a fine on taxes I didn’t owe than prove I didn’t owe the taxes. Now, I’m not saying taxes are theft… but it was starting to feel a lot like extortion.Report

        • Avatar jason in reply to fillyjonk
          Ignored
          says:

          Yeah, we got a letter from the IRS from when we claimed the cost of our IVS treatments. It was several years later. The frustrating thing was that we when called THEIR numbers, we didn’t actually get IRS people, but contractors who told us what we needed. After sending them multiple documents we finally got it sorted out without having to pay them anything (because our deductions were legal). But it was extremely frustrating. I didn’t think to contact our tax guy and he later told me he would have taken care of it for us.Report

  4. Avatar Aaron David
    Ignored
    says:

    Heh, just did my business taxes yesterday… The hardest part is getting up the gumption to go up to my office (corner of the third bedroom) and sit down to figure out again what forms to use, which schedule or worksheet do I follow for this line, and so on. I do all business spending through my business CC, so getting those numbers only takes a second (if they want receipts, I just hand them the bills!) Deposits I can get from the account I use for this. And so it really doesn’t take too long.

    The frustrating part is seeing the ever shrinking amounts I make over the years. This isn’t too bad in reality, as it is a retirement business and so I am not trying to grow it, but it makes me realize how many of my clients are dying off (antique stores are owned and run by old people), demographics of cities and localities are changing, trends in shopping reflect different attitudes, and so it goes.

    If this weather holds I am going to mow the lawn, and do other household maintenance type things.Report

  5. Avatar Marchmaine
    Ignored
    says:

    Often I’ve thought that it would be a really interesting post to talk about how the tax code is written for two groups: 1) The Actuarial Everyman and 2) The Rich ™. All of these people pay what I’d call discounted Taxes… there’s the list price that *no one* pays, and then the rates at which *I* am taxed witch is still too much, but righteously discounted.

    And then there’s a group that pays Retail List price for all their taxes… plus, those righteous discounts based on virtuous behavior? Yeah, those are backed out… and secret new taxes that you don’t know about are added on… so Retail PLUS. But here’s the important part… none of these taxes impact the people in group #2… they all land on people who aren’t “rich” just richer than actuarial group #1. Solidarity against group #2…yes?

    In my mind, the “Lament of the 2%-3%” goes over big as an affront to fairness. Then I just realize it would be an occasion to fling poo at the monkeys in different cages.

    So, instead: Taxes! Amirite?Report

  6. Avatar Fish
    Ignored
    says:

    Sometime in late March/early April K will announce that she’s doing the taxes. My job is to make sure the desk is clear and the computer is ready and the printer is accessible and to supply documents upon demand. It’s a couple of days of work, usually, but they get done. In the past it has involved a call or two to her Mom (who was a CPA) but since she’s been retired for a while her knowledge is no longer up-to-date.

    One year she decided to take them to H&R Block. They screwed them up and K ended up having to do them again anyway. Never again.Report

  7. Avatar Slade the Leveller
    Ignored
    says:

    Taxes are done, thankfully, and refund has been transmitted by Uncle Sam. I gave up trying to calibrate withholding a long time ago. It’s a fool’s errand.

    Saturday is a Mardi Gras party and I’m bringing beignets. If you have any tips for those, this first time beignet maker will take them.

    Sunday is a best of Broadway thingy for the local charity I’m involved with. I really don’t like musical theater, but I go to these things to support the organization.Report

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