President’s day. It is officially tax season. I like to get my taxes
done early so I know where I stand. Many people like to do their own
taxes, which I understand. Years ago I used to do my own as well.
Now there are so many different deductions and so forth that I don’t trust
myself to get it right on my own. I tried going to those little cubicles
set up in major stores and having them do my taxes. It didn’t exactly
comfort me that the person doing my taxes was only doing this for two months of
the year. The rest of the time they were gym instructors or what have
you. So I decided some time ago to go to an actual accountant. It
doesn’t cost much different than the cubicle guys and I have someone who does
tax work 12 months of the year doing my taxes. If nothing else it gives me
piece of mind. Since I have been going to the same person for so long, he
does my son’s return at the same time for free. I used to see nice
returns. Then we started owing on our taxes out of the blue. That’s
not fun. You go over every deduction but the government still wants
more. What happened? My income hasn’t changed that much. A
year ago we found out that my wife wasn’t having enough taken out of her
checks. I am from the school of thought that says, “It’s better to overpay
than to have to come up with a lump of cash to pay later.” My wife, on the
other hand believes, “Why should I give the government an interest free loan for
a year?” Both are compelling arguments when you think about them.
Last year was a nightmare, however. As soon as I was done at the
accountant’s I called my wife and told her to increase the amount taken out of
her checks. She was not happy with me but did do it. Somehow, only
the federal deductions were increased and this year we received a small refund
from the Federal Government but owe slightly more than that to the state.
Taxes are weird. It didn’t help that my one daughter turned 17 and we lost
a credit for her. How is that fair? It’s not like she turned 17 and
I kicked her out of the house. She is as much of an expense as ever.
How come I magically lose a deduction for her? To all you parents who
thought you beat the system by having a child born before the end of the year
(e.g. December) and had an extra year of deductions, it’s not true. You
just lose the deduction a year sooner to make up for it. Uncle Sam gets
you one way or another. Overall I lucked out. It could have been a
lot worse. Still my wife and I disagree over the time to pay our
taxes. It’s a tough question. I just hate writing the
government a check.