A Day Off For Taxes

Surprise! I made about $1,000 more in 2017 than in 2016 – and paid about 15% more in income tax. So much for relaxing on the surprise of a day off. My common refrain: “Next year will be better. Right?”

A welcome surprise. The day’s meetings were cancelled or postponed with a day’s notice. Take a hint from the universe and take a day off for the first time in about a month. Ah. But, responsibility rules. Pay those taxes. But check emails. Done. And do again later because clients and real estate deserve attention too. First great hurdle of the day, making sure my plastic plumbing fix fixes a problem I caused with my sink that hopefully didn’t affect my dishwasher. Grease. Ugh. Listening for it to drain without spilling and maybe not even dripping is distracting; so, don’t get too deep into the taxes until the dishwasher is done. Success! Imagine that.

Okay, back to work.

Gather up the folder of Taxes 2017 and realize how little is in it. Ah ha! There are two folders. I didn’t realize I was doubly organized. Start opening envelopes labeled “IMPORTANT TAX RETURN DOCUMENTS ENCLOSED’. One of the consequences of the Gig Economy is lots of envelopes with paperwork enumerating significant sums, but sums that don’t sum to enough to cover all of the bills. It’s like Christmas Day with lots of socks and underwear. And then realize (a lot of realizing going on here) that some of the documents are electronic and easy to overlook – and hard to look at if I forget the username and password for an account I only use once a year.

By the way, thanks for coming along for the ride. Weirdly enough, it is comforting to write this down as if someone will read it.

But first, find the notes for the old password and immediately make up a new one that fits the new rules without repeating an old password – for an account I evidently access twice a year.

Okay. Papers compiled. Take a break before plunging into TurboTax where I’ll find myself scrambling for other ones, though hopefully not.

Enough of the distractions of lunch and a bout of Civilization (the game, not reality). To TurboTax I go, possibly via my bank’s offer; so, I’ll log in there first. Log out because it looks like it is the Free option, which usually isn’t the version I need for a home business. Ah, but that is a impulsive reaction. Log back in and double check. Click on the link and it takes me out to TurboTax. Start for Free versus Sign In. What’s the difference? No clue. Hit Free for the fun of it.

Ah, Start for Free – and then pay $104.99 after the bank’s $15 discount. Here we go – after I run out to the mail box. Ironically, the only piece of mail was from Quicken, part of the same company that operates TurboTax (unless some merger or spinoff changed things, again.)

Another once-a-year username and password. Right on the second guess.

My Info
New format. New training session. Less confidence as a result. This is a time for the familiar not the eternally shifting.

Another sales pitch that I decline. I don’t want MAXX.

Federal Info

Interrupted by a confirmation email from TurboTax.

It is heart-wrenching to watch the Federal Balance Due climb with every entry. Nah. Let me get this right. It is gut-clenching. Breathe, Tom, breathe.

7 1099s, and that’s only from my clients who reported paying me more than $600 in 2017. Oops. Some set me 1099s even for amounts under $50. Ah, useless paperwork that must be respected and reported.

Now I see the Hide button for the Federal Balance Due. Maybe the worst is over and it will only go down from here. I’ll leave it up.

Oops. Missed a category, all of those non-1099 gigs. Prepare for a higher tax bill.

Shuffling entries because each sounds like another.

Add in my pension and Boing!!! goes the taxes.

Yet another ad, and another.

Opps. Forgot a stock trade I was forced to take by a takeover. Now I must go into yet another web site. It automatically adds a bunch of forms with zeroes. Not productive, but possibly necessary. It also means going through the ads again.

Grr. Can’t find the mortgage company form.

Go online. Set up an account on the mortgage company’s site. Rummage around for the account number on the monthly bill. Get everything arranged – and find the right form sitting under the old statement beside the computer. Logout.

“The xxx of total itemized deductions doesn’t count yet because your tax due already includes the best tax break, which is the $6,350 Standard Deduction.Your xxx of mortgage deductions may have also been limited depending on your income.”

Distraction from a previous episode. One of Amerigas’ competitors showed up to check how hard it would be to swap out the Amerigas tank for one of theirs. Life overlaps.

Hmm. Typing in the numbers for the healthcare premiums is supposedly aided by “Copy previous month”; but, it is almost slower than typing it it.

Done? Ouch! That’s the highest tax payment in years, and I only made about $1,000 more than last year. I’m glad I received a friend’s monetary buffer, but how does this keep happening for someone who can’t pay all of their bills? Life in the Gig Economy.

Let’s get finish this and get on with life.

Another ad on the way to the pay window means the fears of the session being dropped arise. Watch the spinning beachball of oy vey.

As if they don’t already have enough personal and private information, now they want my drivers license number.

Not enough? Now I have to prove that I’m not a robot; which I fail because I didn’t type their kaptcha characters fast enough.

More ads, which I get to see because I already gave them money? Huh?

Emails confirm that I paid my bills. I’ve done the responsible thing that would’ve been far more traumatizing if not for the buffer provided by a friend. Without it, I’d either be on some payment plan or selling my house. All this to pay for a government that spends money in ways I consider obscene. Pardon that last bit, I’ll probably feel better in a day or two, but blogging benefits by capturing the unfiltered reality and emotions.

Call a friend to vent. – And then hear about their experience which was worse and involved threats from the IRS.

Go for a run. Sweat it out.

My workload and my taxes are giving me a lot to think about. I see a sitting and thinking and drinking session arriving after I post this. Seven main jobs. A growing network of clients. Great potential, but a potential that hasn’t been realized, as measured by being able to sustain this frugal lifestyle. When the sum is less than enough, but the workload is unsustainable, which work gets removed and how does that help the sum increase? I don’t know.

Writers know the power of the strong declarative statement. Strong declarative statements appeal to people, even when they are obviously false. Check the political realm for examples. Writers know the power of the positive statement. People like happy endings.

My reality isn’t as tidy. More than six years (since My Triple Whammy) of great potential, unrealized. A prelude to success, or a pattern than I must break? Stay tuned to find out. In the meantime, I believe this evening’s introspection pairs with a martini made with homemade spiced vodka. Cheers, and sympathies to all who have similar taxing experiences.

About Tom Trimbath

consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: https://trimbathcreative.wordpress.com/about/ and at my amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035XVXAA
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