I know, I know…I work with accountants – I should LOVE this topic. (I don’t.) I should have my taxes all finished. (I don’t.) I should think money is an interesting topic. (I really, really don’t.)
Shiny Tangent: Here’s what I find interesting in that last paragraph…I used that dirty gut-busting word “should” THREE times. If there’s any word I’d love to ban from the world’s lexicon, it’s “should.”
*back to the dreaded “T” Word*
Taxes and money are just not my happy place. I like to work hard and make money but then I don’t want to touch it, or even really know a whole lot about it. It’s a weakness of mine. Thank God I married my husband, who rocks at it.
However, it’s that time of year again, at least here in America. I don’t care if you’re old, young, liberal or conservative, gay, straight, black, white or brown…EVERYONE is a teensy bit afraid of the IRS.
Here’s how taxes work at my house:
- I acknowledge that my Hubby is a saint and place my
1099’stax offerings dead center of his keyboard. I light money candles and make “You Rock My World” t-shirts to drape over his deskshrine.
- Sometime in January, he begins sending and receiving smoke signals with the accountant.
- The first hint I get that they’ve started communicating for the year is when my husband hands me the tax organizer for the current year. (Click here if you need one.)
Note: Hubby does three smart things when he hands me the tax organizer.
- He makes a copy beforehand in case I lose mine.
- It’s our policy to discuss it on a different day than when he hands it to me and we set a timer for 20 minutes, because that’s all I can stand.
- He starts filling out the organizer before he gives it to me.
The dreaded tax organizer…
The yearly tax organizer is a throbbing scum-sucking mass of guilt as far as I’m concerned. It sits in the corner — alone and verklempt, like a pissed-off Jewish granny from Brooklyn — whizzing guilt-laden messages toward my tax-addled brain:
What? You can’t spend 10 lousy minutes with your tax organizer? Oy! The agony…
I’m just gonna sit here, incomplete. *gusty sigh*
Damn shiksa tax-pansy won’t even check her deductions…
Then that meshuggeneh tax organizer pulls out the big guns:
A nice wife would be responsible and fill me out. Take care of her nice financially organized husband with a little help…or maybe a nice knish.
Eventually, I attack the organizer and fill it out, just to make the guilt stop. I send it back to the shrine of my patient husband, wrapped inside a flaming sheet of invisible hate.
Hubby sends a copy of all our documents AND the organizer to the tax guy, who gets us in for an appointment. Our accountant is a funny little dude named David, who sounds a lot like Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.
David typically starts off the session with some jokes, I think in an attempt to loosen my white-knuckled grip on the edge of his desk. At the end of our appointment, he tells us whether we’ve done enough withholding or whatever and we write a check to the U.S. Treasury if required.
[The amount of that check is always guaranteed to make me blanch and throw up a little in my mouth.]
Here’s the important things to get from the above description – I’ve learned some pretty hard lessons over my years of being an independent contractor (which is what nearly ALL WRITERS are):
- Pay your taxes as close to “on time” as you can to avoid vicious penalties. (Quarterly estimates are the best way to do this.)
- File your return on time, even if you can’t pay, to avoid vicious penalties.
- The last year has seen an unprecedented number of changes to the tax laws. It is more important than ever to be sure you have an accountant who is up to date on these changes, to avoid vicious penalties. (Are you noticing a pattern here??)
If you are doing your taxes yourself, here are some links that will help:
Note: Here is a link to a post on the IRS “hot buttons” for Form 1040 in 2011.
Other great tools:
Last of all, here are some posts you might find helpful (or at least funny):
By far my favorite person to write about taxes is Chuck Wendig – he discusses the nasty subject every year over at TerribleMinds, his incredibly brilliant blog. Last month, he wrote 25 Financial F*ck-ups Writers Make. Read it and don’t do any of those things!
The Freelancer’s Guide To Taxes that he wrote last year remains my favorite. (p.s. If cursing makes you cranky, DON’T read any of Chuck’s posts.)
Are you an organized soul, like my husband, or more of a Tax Banshee like me? Is this your first year doing taxes as a working writer or are you experienced at this? (If so, we want TIPS in the comments.) Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!
If you’ve been reading my Techie Tuesday posts this month, you know I’m giving away spots in a new More Cowbell tribe specifically from the comments in my Triberr blogs. PLUS, I will give the winners a Triberr tutorial via GoToMeeting where we all talk on the phone and do a quick online session about how Triberr works.
Here’s how to enter this contest:
- Comment or link back to any of my Triberr posts
- I will add your name to the Magic Hat of Triberr Love
- I will draw 3 names each time I put up a Triberr post, announcing the winners for the week.
News: As of mid-January, Triberr is now open to all with no invite needed. Any of you that don’t end up in my tribe can still go find and form your own tribes. There are MANY nifty enhancements coming down the Triberr pike right now, especially for WordPress bloggers.
Week 1’s winners were: Nicole Basaraba, Sheila Seabrook and Raelyn Barclay.
Week 2’s winners are: Jessica O’Neal, Marcy Kennedy and Fabio Bueno.
Last week’s winners are: Leanne Shirtliffe, Gloria Richard and Kate Wood. Congrats!
If you didn’t win, don’t fret…there will be more winners picked from the Triberr post next week. 🙂