The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Dread, I Christen Thee: Taxes

Do you ever have a general emotion and you can’t immediately pinpoint its origin? You wake up in the morning feeling excited and happy, but you can’t remember exactly why. As you’re showering and getting dressed the feeling doesn’t fade, so you know it’s not a residual happy dream feeling. There must be some reason you feel good about today. It’s not your birthday. You don’t have any packages due to arrive from Ebay. That cute neighbor who sometimes flirts with you at the bus stop when you’re dropping the kids switched schedules with his bitchy wife last week and hasn’t been around, so that’s not it. Ah, and then it comes to you: today is the day your boss is out having his colonoscopy, so there’s no one to worry about checking for over your shoulder while you read celebrity gossip and snarky TV recaps! You have all day to indulge your base interests and no one even to hide from. Heaven. You leave for work with a spring in your step.

This happens to me all the time. An emotion I can’t immediately place the origin of is sort of like a string around my finger. It helps me remember there’s something going on I shouldn’t forget.

I’ve been experiencing an unspecified feeling of dread for the last several months. It’s been most pronounced on days when I don’t have 8 billion things on the schedule. I wake up and should be feeling relaxed and relieved to have a bit of time to get done what I need to get done, but instead, I have a swarming hive of bees in my midsection about… what exactly? What am I worried about? I made it through my sister’s wedding and any responsibilities I had. I had several out of town family visitors in the last month that we also survived without incident. Bennett’s science fair project came and went and he even got a B on it, so that’s not what was gnawing at my insides. I don’t have any deals perched on the precipice of no return. I don’t have any phone calls to make that might get me screamed at.

Finally last week I was able to give name to my sense of foreboding: my tax appointment was quickly approaching. dun dun DUNNN!

Yeah. We got our taxes done this weekend. And of course last week was chock full of appointments and showings and chaperoning of field trips. Thus my process of gathering all of our receipts and costs and W2s and 1099s and C3POs and the like was smashed down into Friday night from 10:30PM-midnight and then from Saturday morning from 6AM-11AM. It wasn’t pretty. By 9AM on Saturday I said to Jason with a tremor of desperation in my voice, “I’m not sure I’m going to make it in time. I don’t know if this is going to happen.” He replied, “It’s ok. You know you can do this. Just push through. You ARE strong enough!” It was like a scene from Saving Private Ryan.

It did help that Jason evacuated the kids from the house for a few hours. I didn’t have to cross reference receipts with our bank account while mediating a fight regarding which brother kicked another brother in the face first and whether that offender actually deserved to be beaned with a flying drumstick in retaliation. Of course Jason didn’t actually have a choice in the matter. It was his own punishment for the morning before when he’d had the gall to raise his eyebrow at my stress over the huge amount of work that still needed to be done gathering our tax information and say, “Well I’ve got my tax stuff together.”

In addition to children distraction duty he was also sentenced to a five minute rant wherein I beseeched him to tell me just what had he done to get ‘his’ tax stuff together besides spot the W2 his office mailed to us and I picked up from the mailbox on the counter and move it to his desk for safekeeping? Had he gone through all of our bank accounts and printed the interest forms dealing with our mortgages? Had he combed through the receipts I collected and all of our charges to find the medical bills pertaining to his expensive neck fusion surgery in 2010? Oh no? Nothing? He’d done nothing else. Hm. Then maybe should keep his eyebrows holstered and his mouth shut.

It did all get complied and organized. We made it through the appointment. We owe the government $1800. Which I suppose isn’t the worst thing that could happen. We will survive.

I would like a better system, though. The self-flagellation over my disorganization I go through every year is probably growing cancer cells in my intestines. It can’t be healthy. I know I have the ability to follow a system. I do it with meal planning and grocery shopping. So I should be able to maintain something with my taxes.

I have acquired a Neat Desk from someone who wasn’t using theirs. It scans documents and receipts and has text recognition software that allows it to understand the amounts and dates and things like that on my receipts. It’s very high tech and easy. It seems like this might be the way to go.

Here’s the problem; this is the thought process I went through yesterday when testing this potential plan out: Wow; that was easy. I should scan all of my receipts on everything I spend and then import right to Quicken. Of course this means I’ll have to start using Quicken. I wonder how much that costs. And what about the things I spend money on that don’t have paper receipts like the lawn service for the rental house. Or the Netflix bill. Hm… ooo and the Neat Desk can scan the kid’s artwork and report cards? I should definitely start doing that. You know, Gray has a report card due back to his teacher I haven’t signed yet. Where is that? I should probably do that right now or I’ll forget and he’ll be the kid that kept the class from getting a treat for all turning them in on time. Then they’ll all hate Gray and he’ll turn into a recluse and I’ll have to buy a house with a basement that he can live in when he’s 40. Ooo, you know they have basement houses in that new build development a few miles away. I should look online at those houses right now. For client research…

And in a blink of an eye it’s February of 2012 and I have a hive of swarming bees in my stomach and I can’t remember why. Until I spot the dusty Neat Desk in the office. Oh right, I was going to figure that out. This is why I hate myself.

9 Responses to Dread, I Christen Thee: Taxes

  1. BASEMENT HOMES?!

    And btw, taxes only work in our house because Ryan forces us to sit down and do it like RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THE W2s SHOWED UP IN THE MAIL FIVE SECONDS AGO. I DREAD doing taxes. I think I actually have a PSD response from the year we owed $6000.

  2. ah, just more reasons why everyone should be pushing to get the fair tax bill passed!

  3. Ok, so the system I have worked out with my neatdesk (which totally needs improvement) is that I shove my receipts in a file on top of my desk for (theoretically) weekly scanning. Once scanned they get thrown into one big box. I’m hoping to actually scan weekly and that the box will turn into a categorized, labeled filing system. And if you pay netflix or the landscaper from your bank account, Quicken will help you categorize those, even if like say the netflix gets paid out of the bundled phone-internet-cable bill. It theoretically can totally work into an organized system.

  4. yeah, taxes. suck-o-matic.

    Here is my system:
    1) I use Quicken, so anything we spend via bill-paying, checks, or VISA gets categorized when it’s entered. When our W-2s arrive, I print out a Quicken report for the previous calendar year, categorized.
    2) I have a single hanging folder labeled “taxes”. I just stuff any “tax related” receipt (anything I think might be tax related, receipts from donations, tax bills, whatever) into that folder. After I print out the Quicken report, I go through the folder and sort the stuff into categories (donations, earned interest income, whatever).
    3) I bring the report, our W-2s, and the sorted folder to our tax guy and answer his questions.

    End of system. It generally takes me less than 90 minutes, start to finish (although I’ll grant that as a self-employed person, you have more “stuff” to keep track of).

  5. My system (ok, mostly Ryan’s): put all tax-related receipts in a folder. Ok, I put all receipts on his desk and he files them. (lazy) Then I built a spreadsheet in Excel a few years ago that I still use. It has different tabs for medical/dental (including mileage), education, job-related, etc. Then they all feed back to a front page tab that gives a summary of everything. Ta da!

  6. System? What system? I don’t need no stinkin system.

    Actually been thinking of getting a Neat Desk or similar for about a year when some nice lady tried to sell me one in an airport.

  7. I’m also curious about your mileage tracking process. Mine is ridiculous and time consuming. Next blog?

  8. I have a manila envelope stored on the shelves in the computer room that I shove any receipt that looks mildly tax related into and then figure it out in January. The medical stuff takes me an hour to resolve, but other than that it is a no brainer. Then after completing my taxes I use the same manila envelope to put a copy of my taxes with the receipts and save in a box in the attic if the IRS comes calling.

  9. Hmmm, being lower on the socio-economic ladder does have its advantages. While I still save medical, tax, and a few other receipts, and I still tally them every year, we are down to taking the standard deduction so tax time is quite speedy. I wonder if I called myself a multinational corporation if the government would send me money!

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