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Tax Time Eye Opener…

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My husband and I contribute to several charitable organizations throughout the year. Last year, one of them asked us if they could e-mail us monthly notices requesting our pledged donation rather than mail the paper copy. They anticipated this change would save a huge amount of money on postal expenses and I agreed with their new terms.

I get a lot of e-mail each day. Not because I’m popular or important, but because I get junk mail. Every few years, I switch e-mail addresses but without fail, the junk still comes. Because of this, my junk mail settings are stringent. I glance through the junk mail box and catch a non-junk piece or two but it’s not a fool proof method.

I printed my tax receipt from the charitable organization and realized I had missed three months of payments. Not consecutively, just random months were missing. When I checked my junk mailbox for one of the months, the bold reminder e-mail was still unread. Apparently some months make it through, while others don’t.

I made up the missing payments and set a reminder on my calendar but I can’t help but wonder if I’m not the only one whose charitable giving was lessened on the new e-mail system. Those three missed payments would have covered nearly two decades in postage fees to mail the paper copy to me. Fortunately I caught it and 2011 will be a more reliable year of payments from me but has anyone else experienced the same problem? Or is it just me demonstrating, yet again, that I am perhaps the least tech savvy person on the planet?


The Tax Man…

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I’m facing my biggest foe this weekend… the IRS. This is the second year we have decided to prepare our taxes ourselves with free tax software. It’s a huge savings from the $200+ we were spending on our accountant but I’m always a little leery about dealing with the government on my own… and I work for the government.

That should tell you something.

We will still have to consult with a friend about some questions we have, but I’m hoping we’ll come out on top again. We got a huge chunk of cash back last year but we didn’t adjust our withholdings since our deductions were changing this year. I know Dave Ramsey yells at people who let the government withhold too much money, but since our deductions are far from predictable, we have to take a safe route.

I’ve cleared my schedule (and the living room floor), chilled a 6-pack of beer to keep hubby interested, and I think we’re ready.

Poll time!

Do you prepare your own taxes or pay an accountant?


Tax Write-Off Craziness…

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I’m in a tax write-off frenzy right now. My strong procrastination skills have resulted in a 6 month old neatly folded pile of clothing ready for donation to Goodwill. Leave it to me to give myself a measly 48 hour window to take care of everything.

Also included in the 48 hour countdown is our energy efficient spending. According to the Wall Street Journal, and the ever so helpful staff at Lowes, this is the last year of the 30% tax rebate for energy efficient insulation, water heaters, windows and doors. Bad news: Our house has zero insulation and we’ve been working on fixing that problem for two years. Despite all this work, we still need an additional $600 worth of insulation. Thanks to the removal of the tax credit, we’re forced to bite the bullet and buy the remaining insulation now. At least it’s on sale. Good news: I guess our water heater picked a good year to go kaput.

My husband is ripping apart our walls as we speak. Our thermometer is reading a crisp 56 degrees…in the living room. I’ve always fantasized about having a living room temperature above 65 during cold spells. I guess my wildest dreams are finally coming true.

It’s amazing what a 48 hour deadline will do.

Obviously, I’m not a tax person. Consult with a professional before investing or donating.


Home Value Stagnation…

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Last year, I applied for a reduction in my property taxes. The city approved my claim and reduced my tax bill 25 percent.

Each year, the city re-evaluates all reductions and can raise the tax bill if property values have risen. I’ve been nervous over the last two months as the city re-evaluated our home. Our home is not worth any more than it was last year – perhaps it’s worth even less – but when it comes to government and needing money, they usually err in their favor (trust me. I can say this. I’m a government employee and…that’s what we do).

I opened the mail over the weekend and found an official letter from my city. It said…

they have decided my home value is stagnant and have approved another year at the reduced tax rate!

Yes!!!


A Surprising Change to our Debt…

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I am nearly finished with our taxes. We are waiting on two more forms to arrive in the mail before we can finalize the forms.

I spent about an hour compiling information and completing forms in the tax software. It was far easier than I expected and I am a bit perturbed at how difficult our accountant made us think it was and more importantly… how much he charged us to do it.

It’s upsetting to me how many hundreds of dollars we have wasted in the past for something so terribly simple.

Don’t tell my husband but… I actually enjoyed doing it. The chronic organizer/obsessive compulsive in me loved the structure and numbers. My husband offered to do the dishes for a week if I took care of the taxes. If he finds out I actually enjoyed it, I’m on KP duty again so… shhh!

So far, the results are going to make a change to our debt. We can’t finalize anything until mid-week but as it stands now, it’s a far different number than we were expecting.

More? Less? Are we going to have to pull out our credit card to pay the tax due or are we getting some cash back?

I guess you’ll have to wait and see…


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