taxes posts

Finally finished my taxes and got everything mailed. Always a relief with a tinge of worry that I did something wrong. I’m getting money back for the first time in years, and was able to pay this years first quarter estimates with over-payments of last years estimates. This was due to me making less than previous years, but it did feel good to not have to deal with the estimates.

Except, of course, for Cleveland, part of CCA. CCA makes you, with the way the form is set up, subtract your over-payment from the whole year estimate and then pay a quarter of the remainder. Even though my over-payment was more than my estimated quarterly owings, I still had to mail in a check. It’s like a penalty for over-payment. And if I instead took my over-payment as a refund and then payed the real quarterly estimate, they have separate mailing addresses for returns that have refunds and returns that have payments. Not sure what I should do when one return is both. Confusing. Which is a common problem with city taxes. They always seem to have things that are vague and confusingly worded, set up differently than federal and state, and there isn’t the software guidance or countless web articles, posts, and answers to help that there is for federal and, to a lesser extend, state.

As I say every year: Next year I should probably pay an accountant to help me with this stuff.

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Tax worries again

This past night I worked on my taxes, a stressful endeavor. I am an independent contractor, which has made things way more complicated than they used to be. I’ve been using the Free File program to use online applications for filling out taxes for years now, usually using TurboTax or H & R Block. They abstract from the forms and walk me through everything, and often provide help when I’m confused, but they can sometimes be worded confusingly. I just do the best I can. The biggest problem with the abstraction is that everything is trapped in this interface, so it’s hard to review it yourself and make sure everything is right.

Every year I worry that I’ve done something wrong, and this year is no exception. Since becoming an independent contractor, having to pay estimated taxes, I don’t really get a “return”, either applying my over-payments to next year or often having to pay additional. This year, though, I have a rather large over-payment, more than enough to pay my first quarterly estimates for 2016. That worries me. I’ve made a fair amount less than last year, so it may be right, but I’m still unsure. I’m going to sit on it and come back to it another night, see what I can do to review it.

Another thing I do every year is say that next year I’m going to work with an accountant. Every next year I wait until it’s too near tax time to comfortably figure out how to do that. I don’t really know how that works or what it would cost. It’s more of a consultation and review of how I’m doing the taxes myself that I need. Maybe next year. We’ll see.

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Taxes: Income Tax Simplification of Forms

Usonian income taxes are crazy complicated and a pain to deal with. They shouldn’t be, especially for normal people: Only people performing complex income related activities should have any need for a tax accountant. There are so many modifiers to promote certain behavior and demote other, but it is very inconsistent and confusing and irrelevant stuff often has to be read through by people for whom it doesn’t apply. Promoting behaviors is good, but it needs to be simplified drastically.

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