It's tax time? It's news to me
April 15 is fast approaching, and once again this year, it will be uneventful in the Schulz household.
Our taxes were diligently prepared, by me, in early February. Our refund from the federal and state governments were promptly processed and subsequently spent. That money is gone; we've done our jobs to help stimulate the economy.
I've been an early filer for years -- ever since a buddy and I sold a side business we owned. Wading through stacks of partnership forms, depreciation schedules and business receipts always gave me an ulcer. I was in charge of our books, and tax time was not a happy time for me. Twice I broke several months of non-smoking and restarted my dirty habit on, you guessed it, April 15. It's not a big coincidence that just a couple of years after selling the business, I also quit smoking for good -- about 10 years now.
I've had a love-hate relationship with taxes over the years. In high school, I was active in Business Professionals of America in the banking and accounting competitions, which took me to the national contest. Before you think me an ambitious high schooler, you should know that I made it to nationals mainly because my accounting and business law teacher promised me I'd get an A in his class and not have to show up anymore if I made nationals. My senior year, this earned me a morning schedule that because of that, PSEO option classes and a general senior slide, included study hall, accounting (guaranteed A), study hall and lunch. I wasn't much of a morning person.
But I digress. Taxes for me became a happy pursuit again in college, when people learned of my bookkeeping ability and guys in the dorm offered me money to do their taxes for them. You should realize that your average college student files a 1040 EZ form, which I could do blindfolded in less than a minute. If you can write your name, you can fill out a 1040 EZ. So I gladly accepted the tasks from the dorm guys, and charged each 10 percent of their return to fill it out for them. The average return got me about $100, and to make them feel good, I'd leave their return on my shelf for two weeks before handing it back to them. Hey, I had to let them believe I had labored long and hard checking tax codes to fill out their 1040 EZ.
After selling the business, I've been a February filer. It doesn't take too long for our taxes, even though my wife and I itemize. We're what are lovingly referred to as DINKs -- double income, no kids. The deduction list is pretty short: mortgage interest, taxes paid, charitable contributions. It's an afternoon job, at most.
It wasn't such a happy task when we had to write $1,000 checks at tax time, so we started withholding the maximum out of our paychecks during the year. While I realize experts say you shouldn't do this -- you should instead take the maximum deductions you're allowed and bank that extra few bucks a paycheck. We're not nearly that disciplined, so we just withhold the maximum and go on a mini shopping spree in March, when our refunds come back.
Today, tax time, or specifically April 15, is pretty anticlimactic in our home. The returns are filed, the money is spent, and we're on to spring cleaning by now. It beats a nicotine-fueled all-nighter. Not bad for a couple of DINKs.