Sunday, January 18, 2009
A cautionary tale. Or, why wine and taxes don't mix.
I am poor.
Ok. Not food-stamps-poor. But poor enough where my checking account mystifyingly reaches the single digits in the day before pay day.
So, because of this, I'm waaaaaaay psyched about my forth-coming tax refund. Woot to the refund! (Yes, yes, I know all you smart people say I should just adjust my withholdings, otherwise I'm giving the government an interest-free loan. But whatever. I enjoy, nay, heart, the refund.)
So last week, I had a glass (ok, fine ... a bottle) of wine and set out to figure out my refund. Of course, since TaxCut (my trusty tax software for the past three years) got all high-tech this year, I couldn't use it since my poor iBook's operating system is so old.
No problem, I thought. Millions of people do taxes by hand. How hard can it be?
I printed the forms. Downloaded the instruction book. Sharpened a pencil. Turned up the music and ...
OMG! OMG! OMG!
I'm getting an $11,000 refund! Hallelujah! Sweet Jesus! The tax gods have smiled on me! That's five whole digits back!!
I continue to swig chardonnay while doing a pajamified version of my happy dance around the condo. I mean, I know they said homeownership comes with great tax benefits, but holy shit! $11,000!?!?
This means I can pay off my credit card bill! And seed that emergency fund that I know I should have! And afford a plane ticket to San Francisco! And maybe splurge on a massage or something!
I'm freakin' ecstatic. Even The Mutt seems caught up in my enthusiasm, throwing her tennis ball at me. And running around in happy dog circles.
But, hum. Wait a minute.
$11,000? Really? That seems, well ... wrong. That's like getting all of my federal taxes back. And, like, that doesn't happen. At least, not to working professionals.
My refund high and I are beginning to crash. Hard.
Maybe I'll get an accountant. Maybe I'll burn some kind of herb as an offering to the tax gods. Maybe I'll....
It's daytime. I'm sober. And I have TurboTax. The math seems less ... magical.
I am NOT getting an $11,000 refund. I am not getting half that. I am not getting a quarter of that. I'm getting ... a lot less.
Where's my wine?