so today . . . i'm doing our taxes.
well, technically i guess i am blogging. but i am thinking about doing our taxes.
and technically, i guess i don't do our taxes--someone from h&r block does them. but i make it possible. i collect all the data--you know, all those pesky receipts--and organize them so that the tax lady can fill out the forms. it's a big job! and every year i plan to do it early, but that never happens. so here i am, in the middle of march, tracking down deductions.
i am all about getting back as much as we can from the government. i don't mind paying some taxes. i appreciate having police and fire protection. and i guess we need some sort of decision-making hierarchy, and no one is going to do that for free! but i don't want to have to contribute anymore than i have to. i would rather get to spend my own money!
so . . . that requires some work--keeping track of all those medical expenses we have had, adding up all the sales tax receipts, and listing each item we have donated to charity. yeah, you can see why i am avoiding it by blogging . . .
medical expenses aren't too bad. all the receipts are in a folder, and i just take them out and add them up.
but the charity donations are more daunting. i've always made lists of what was donated, because that's what my mom said to do--and she is pretty smart! and that wasn't too bad--i just listed things as i popped them into bags. then a few years ago my sister-in-law (who is also pretty smart,) said the irs was getting tougher on those types of contributions, and she suggested taking digital photos of stuff. i can see why a list in itself might not be enough--i could say i donated anything! but this whole photo thing complicates my process, because i have to take pictures and make a list. if i didn't get rid of so much stuff, i wouldn't do it! of course, if i didn't get rid of so much stuff, it would be easier.
which brings us to the sales tax receipts.
we have a folder for sales tax receipts, just like the medical receipts. the difference is, the sales tax folder is bulging by the end of the year. bulging. we pay sales tax on everything!! so by the end of the year, it is daunting. every january i vow to deal with these receipts at the end of each month, so that it isn't such a big job. but it never happens. so here i am, trying to read the faded ink on year-old receipts, sorting them by month (because i need some sort of system here,) and circling the tax amount (so i can see it when i start adding up the numbers.)
the first year i did this, i used a yellow highligher instead of circling the amounts. i found it oddly satisfying, and it didn't take too long to highlight all the tax amounts. but a few days later when i got around to adding them up, i found that the ink on some of the receipts had reacted with the highlighter and disappeared! so that brilliant idea backfired . . .
i am always amazed at how much we spend in sales tax every year. actually, it is a fairly painless way to pay taxes, even at nearly 10%, but when i see the total i am always shocked! and also glad, because we can deduct it all somewhere on our tax forms. so you see, shopping is actually saving us money. without shopping and eating out, we would have to pay way more in income tax--but only if the receipts make it into the receipt folder.
every year when i deal with the mountain of paper, i always find a few receipts from the year before. "oh no!" i think. "we could have deducted this $3.48! why, oh why weren't these receipts in the folder last year!" i don't know how this happens, but it always does. so, to offset "the lost ones," i am not above picking up receipts carelessly abandoned by others.
i mean, those sales taxes deserve to be part of someone's returns. it isn't their fault that someone dropped them. or left them on the table. or threw them away.
no wait--i don't go diving for receipts. really.
that would just be weird.