Any tax preparers out there?
I'm working a split day today, and since a few more tax statements came in, I decided to start working on the taxes in earnest. I got so far as to go through the "review" feature in TaxAct, where they give you warnings about things you might have left out or done wrong.
"Please note that the IRS has implemented new review procedures for returns reporting more than $400 in other income. The review process may slow the processing of your return." They recommended making sure the income shouldn't fall under business income, and isn't subject to the Self Employment tax.
Naturally, my mind jumps ahead to "more likely to be audited" as well. So I moved my Election Board income onto Schedule C, figuring I could be called an Independent Contractor like DH was when he delivered newspapers some years back. (And doing it this way will be costing us an additional $79 in Self Employment tax.)
But that still leaves about $562 in other income from doing surveys, test drives and trial offers. I don't want to leave it off, because I wouldn't be able to sleep nights worrying that we'd get in trouble over it later. (My fear of the IRS is right up there with public speaking and death!) But if I report it, I'm liable to have trouble anyway because it's over $400. And I honestly don't see where else it could be reported but "other income."
It really reinforces the feeling I have right now, that I want to go to work, get my grocery shopping done with the least fuss, and live my life--instead of looking for deals all the time. The aggravation at tax time is one of the things that make it more trouble than it's worth.
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Any tax preparers out there?
Well, that is in effect the question my boss has asked me. She's working on next year's budget and wonders if I'd want more hours, and if so, how many. I don't want to pass up an opportunity, but having to come up with an answer in 24 hours has me kind of flummoxed.
On the one hand, we could certainly do with more income. On the other hand, I don't want to commit to more hours than I can handle on a permanent basis. If something comes up and I don't want to work the elections anymore, I can just say no. If I've committed to more hours at my regular job, I'm stuck.
Also, I wondered how many more hours I could work before making us ineligible for the Saver's Credit, or pushing us into the next tax bracket. Not to worry, even if I worked 7 more hours a week, we'd still be poor enough.
I think I'm going to say 4.
And last month I found out our property taxes were going up about $75 a quarter, or $300 a year. That makes $371 a year more that needs to be going into our ING account for house expenses, or about another $7 a week.
I'm not prepared to shop around for homeowner's insurance again this year. We are getting a discount on car insurance because we now have both with the same company. And I already raised our homeowner's deductible last year to as high as I'm comfortable with. Also, there's the hassle of having an inspector come out and take pictures of the house for a new policy. So I'll just bite the bullet and pay.
$7 a week x 4.3 weeks in a month is $30, which means that the $60 a month I thought could go into our discretionary spending account has just been cut to $30. So our spending on extras will now be even more dependent on any extra income I can scrounge up. Or, finding other categories to trim. Gotta get psyched!
I did work on our taxes back in the spring, along with my mother's. In fact, ours were virtually done. But I was so bleary-eyed and confused by April 15 that I just didn't trust what I'd done. So I got extensions for both my mother and us.
All this time, my sewing machine cabinet has been closed up and the tax stuff has been piled on top. But last night I discovered an open seam that's too long to fix by hand, and I want to use the machine.
So today I filed all three of our things electronically--federal, state, and the state property tax rebate.
Funny how $100 in tax refunds wasn't motivating enough for me to do it, but getting to the sewing machine was!
(I got my mother's federal one done last week. This week we took a birthday break; she was 89. Next week hopefully NJ will get finished.)
The $50 Mercury Milan gift card came today, as well as some free shampoo samples from Dove and my free Giant magazine.
However, the property tax bill also came, and it's now $76 more a quarter. There was a note with the bill saying that the new mayor is trying to balance the township budget, which currently is in the red by $4 million.
There is enough in our Property Tax ING account, and it only comes to $25 a month. But still, it makes me nervous.
I just readjusted the amount going into that ING account every week, and thought I'd allowed a generous amount. Now it looks like it will just barely cover the taxes and insurance over the next year.
I wonder how much better fixed I need to be before stuff like this stops throwing me for a loop.
Maybe you've seen NJ's ridiculous budget woes on the news recently. A large portion of state government is shut down because the high mucky-mucks can't agree on how to balance the budget. The main sticking point seems to be whether to raise the state sales tax from 6% to 7%. Only one penny on the dollar, but a 16% increase nonetheless.
It's made me start wondering about how much sales tax we're paying already in our household, and how much this might affect us.
I finally found an article that said a $50,000 a year household was currently paying about $713 a year in sales tax, and the proposed increase would add $122 for a total of $835 a year.
It's kind of a shock to realize that $700 of our money has been going down the drain on sales tax each year, and I've barely been aware of it.
I don't know if there's any way I could actually cut down on it--so much of what's taxable is stuff you have to buy anyway. But I think I'll start tracking it in Quicken, just out of curiosity.