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Fun with Taxes

Joined: 11/9/2011
Posts: 23
Unless you’ve moved totally off the grid or in a perpetual state of denial, you know that taxes are due April 17th. The date is pushed ahead from April 15th because the District of Columbia celebrates “Emancipation Day” on Monday, the 16th (maybe the IRS thinks of it as “Let’s Emancipate Them from Their Cash Day?”). I wrote about tax prep and organization in a guest editor post, but that was a month ago when I was feeling pretty smug because my piles of tax info were in neat stacks - but now, not so much.

Deduction Fun

Here’s the disclaimer that I’m not a tax professional and can’t give tax advice. When I work on my own tax prep for the accountant, I do try really hard to stay within the bounds of what the IRS states as far as deductions. In fact, I’ve been told that I probably could find more legitimate deductions and this is the first year I took the home-office deduction.

But the following are some deductions you SHOULD NOT try to use:

• Mileage spent driving around looking for hot Wi-Fi spots so you can use your tablet to email in your assignments
• A new fashion accessory for your tablet – like a cool designer cover
• New Eileen Fisher spring clothes in case you need to meet with a client
• A happy-hour tab
• Jewelry you buy from an artist whom you’re profiling for an article

So, don’t try to get too creative with those deductions. There are plenty of IRS resources that spell out exactly what you are allowed to deduct. In fact, if you’ve recently relocated, many of your moving expenses are tax deductible. Even after being diligent about finding more valid deductions this year, I’m hit with a scary big tax bill. No fun.

Refund Fun

What’s more fun than getting unexpected money like a tax refund? Personally, I think we’re a bit deluded when we get nice, big refunds. It means we’ve overpaid the government and they’ve been able to play with our money throughout the year. I, too, used to get tax refunds back in the day, but I equated that with not making much money then or my spouse flubbing his exemption status. I can blame him because I was self-employed and didn’t fill out employer’s tax-related paperwork.

Since I usually have to pay taxes, it’s very irritating when friends gleefully tell me they received their refunds by Feb. 1. If I’m paying, I’m waiting till April 15th!

Sensible things to do with your tax refund:

• Pay bills – So boring, but isn’t nice to make them go away?
• Home improvements – Time to replace that leaky faucet or put in a deck
• Put it in savings – Very responsible decision!

Be honest, what would you really like to do with that money if you didn’t have obligations?

Irresponsible (but fun!) things to NOT do with your tax refund:

• Buy a junker 1969 Mustang – How much restoration do you think you can do with $800? Fun to start, though.
• Take your girlfriends to Vegas for the weekend – Did you see the movie “Bridesmaids?”
• Spend it all on one perfect pair of earrings – But you get that robin’s egg blue box, too!

What will you do with your tax refund?
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