Tax time lessons

Last week we met with our accountant to do our 2011 taxes.  (Insert sarcasm font here)  Good times for sure. (/sarcasm)  However, dealing with our 2011 taxes taught me a few lessons.

1. I don’t try to impress my accountant any more.  He’s the same guy we’ve been going to since I started my freelance writing business back in 2003.  At our meetings the first couple of years I’d wear my business clothes, meaning dress pants and a nice top.  This year, I went in jean shorts, short-sleeves and sandals (it was in the 80s!).  I hadn’t had any other in-person work meetings that day and didn’t feel the need to change into something nicer.  It didn’t even cross my mind until I realized this very fact on my drive to the meeting.

2. My income isn’t so stellar.  I realize this almost every tax time, especially since having a baby.  The past two and a half years have had me working much less than before because that’s only feasible with a little one around.  The best part is that when my accountant confirmed to me the money I’d made in 2011 and I made a comment about how it’s not as much, his immediate response was, “You’re raising a child.  That’s more important.”  Seriously.  See why I like this guy?  As a father of two and grandfather of two little ones (both younger than my own child), I think he gets it.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that we pay him.

3. Speaking of non-stellar incomes, it’s a good reminder that my worth definitely doesn’t come from the money I make.  I’m thankful for that.  It’d be a lot of pressure.  Of course we need money to live.  It’s a fact of life in society, but at the same time, everybody is more than a paycheck.  I’m thankful for that.

4. Even with a non-stellar income, I can’t imagine doing anything else.  I know my work will ebb and flow even more now that I’m raising a family.  That’s OK.  I love to write.  I love that people pay me to do so.  But, I also love to be with my daughter.  She’s my biggest project. She’s my best pay-off.  And, thankfully, the IRS hasn’t found a way to tax the smiles and love I get from her as my payment.  Otherwise, we’d be broke.

This looks a lot like the onesie I got for my niece. I got mine at Target, but Target doesn't carry them any more. But, if you are interested, you can find this one here:

5. Having a child has actually paid off.  That child deduction has made tax time a lot less painful than it used to be.  When my sister-in-law was pregnant with their first child, I found a onesie for my niece (who is now 4-1/2) that said “Tax deduction.”  I bought it because my brother is very mathematically and financially minded (unlike his writer, more artistic-side-of-life sister).  It made me laugh then.  Someone else even bought them the same onesie.  However, I’m no longer laughing.  That tax deduction really IS nice.  (And he’s found a way to outdo himself with adding triplets into the mix 2 and a half years ago.  They say they wanted to grow their family.  [Insert humor font] I’m wondering if it was more for the tax deductions! [/humor])

6. My life is easier when I keep up with tax paperwork throughout the year.  Since having a kiddo this has been a challenge to track expenses and income throughout the year.  This year, I had it all in a box.  I sat and sorted that box and compiled it all into my spreadsheets in a couple of afternoons.  I’m hoping to be back on track with doing this throughout the year this year like I used to.  It will make life easier next tax season.

7. Seeing how much money we spend on certain things is a bit disheartening.  One of the expenses I figure each year by being a self-employed person is how much we spend on health insurance.  It’s a ridiculous amount, especially if I think about all the out-of-pocket money we spent as well on co-pays and such.  Good grief!  I will not think of the really nice vacation we could go on or the car loan we could pay off or the halfway nice used car we could buy with this money.  After all, I’m reminding myself to just be thankful for health insurance.  We went through a year without it and that was super tough.

8. An accountant meeting is a good excuse for a couple’s dinner.  We schedule our meetings late in the afternoon so that my husband can meet me there after work.  Now that the kiddo is older, more talkative and more mobile, she doesn’t go with us.  We took her the first year.  This year, she stayed with my in-laws.  They fed her dinner, too, so my husband and I got a dinner out alone.  It was a nice mini-date that gave us a chance to talk.

9. And, finally, I am super thankful for my accountant.  I trust him, but I also appreciate him.  Numbers make me nervous.  Taxes make me nauseous.  I can’t imagine being responsible for my business taxes and figuring out what needs to be filed where and all that jazz.  I’m really thankful I don’t have to do that.  I’m just going to stick with words.  They are much nicer to me!

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