Why I love doing my taxes

This was just a hair too long for twitter…

I really like doing my taxes because I like looking back at the year and seeing what I earned and where it went. I was just reviewing 2014, looking to see if I want to throw some extra money into my 401k for the tax break for the end of the year. I searched my Mint.com account for charitable contributions to see what my total was going to be there, and I scrolled down through everything for the past few years and had to pause when I saw a donation to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence from 2012 on the day of the theater shooting. Oof.

I made a note at the time, but I’m chronically trying and failing to get better at journaling, at blogging, at documenting my own life just for my own sake. And I really like how our financials do a bit of that work for us. A charge from a restaurant reminds me of a birthday, a charge from a clothing store reminds me of the dress I bought to wear to a fun wedding, plane tickets of a vacation.

That’s all. I tried to make this into a 140 character quip but “Reviewing charitable contributions for tax purposes, saw one to an anti-gun violence org from day of 2012 theater shooting. Finances are unintentional journals.” was still 20 characters over.

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I love doing my taxes

You know how occasionally you find yourself in some situation where as an icebreaker you have to come up with an interesting fact about yourself? I think the next time that happens I’m going to use this:

I love doing my taxes.

I really, really just get so much joy from looking back on the year before. What did we earn and where did it go? It’s nice to lay out all your charitable donations for the year and feel good about where you maybe made a difference or helped someone reach a fundraising goal.

I find the math soothing. I like keeping all my forms and receipts organized in a folder. I like doing each of our taxes individually and then seeing if we’d save any money as a married couple. (So far every year we’ve been better off legally single.)

One day when I have loads of free time, I want to volunteer to help other people file.

 

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Alaska likes to help.

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I feel like I should have some tips for doing your own taxes, but I only have this one good one:

If you have a relatively simple return you can use Turbo Tax online or H&R Block online to file your federal return for free, and they are really, really easy to use. (I’ve used both; I prefer H&R Block’s myself but both are super user friendly.)  They’re free, but after you finish your federal return you get a message like, “for $29.95, with just a few more clicks we’ll file your state return as well!”

And it’s kind of tempting. (I’ve done it in a super busy year.) I’ve filed state taxes using the free efile systems in California and in Colorado and they’re not quite as easy and user friendly as they could be, I’m always worried I’m screwing up.

So here’s the trick: start your state return, but stop before you get to the point where you have to fork over thirty bucks. You don’t have to pay unless you actually have them submit your completed return. As you go along, you get a running total of your refund amount (or what you owe).

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Then, when you use the free efiling through your state, you’ll know that if you get the same final number, you did it right. Ta-da.

You could also do the same thing by entering all your information into both H&R Block and TurboTax and making sure those numbers match up, but even I, who loves doing my taxes, was only silly enough to do that once.

Anyways. I started our taxes a few weeks ago, but today was a quiet, snowy afternoon and I went back and double checked everything I had entered and finally hit “Submit.” And now I’m a little bummed it’s over and I have to wait a whole year for tax time to roll around again.

 

PS, remember when I said I went to Ignite and was like “This is so cool, I’m going to submit to speak at the next one!” I did and now I am. It’s this Wednesday, 2/27. Eek! http://ignitedenver.org

I have a strange love for doing my taxes (not because I’m getting money back. I just find the math soothing…), so I completed my return as soon as I had my W-2 in hand, only to find out the IRS wasn’t going to be able to process anyone who had itemized deductions (hello, mortgage interest!) until mid to late February.

Imagine my delight to learn that my return can be filed as early as February 14th! 

Happy Valentines Day! Love, the IRS