Sunday, April 06, 2008

Taxes are done

I downloaded TaxAct today, intending to submit an extension of time to
file. If you've ever filed for an extension before, you know that you
still have to submit your estimated tax liability with your extension,
and for those of us with moderately simple taxes, it means you end up
really doing the whole thing in order to arrive at an estimate.

Plus you also have to check that you don't owe any taxes, since there
is no extension available for payment -- only for filing. A couple
years ago I got bit by that important distinction on my state taxes.
New Jersey doesn't require filing of a state extension, since the
federal extension is accepted by the state as the only paperwork
needed. I didn't owe any federal taxes so I didn't need to file an
extension for my federal return, even though I was filing late -- a
little-known rule, but it's true. Following so far? No federal
extension needed, so none filed.

When I did calculate my return, it turns out that we DID owe state
taxes! So we got a federal refund and were not penalized for filing
late (I told you that little rule was true). But the state wanted
$400+ and they wanted their late fees. What a waste of money.

So now I NEVER skip the extension paperwork even when I'm "sure" no
taxes are owed.

As a result of filing my taxes today, I found the first piece of
evidence that hints at a need for professional tax planning:
disallowed deductions. To avoid that situation next year, and to flee
from the Alternative Minimum Tax that's creeping up on us, I need more
guidance than software can give.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

No excuses

Wow, I'm an irregular blogger, aren't I? I have no excuse for the lapse, except for the thumb (you'll see - keep reading).

Here are a few highlights from my past 3 months:

- We adopted another dog: 6-yr-old Daisy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, she's 15 pounds, retired from a breeder who surrendered her to a rescue group. She snores disruptively loudly, but otherwise is well adapted to life in our house.
- My husband got in a low-speed crash on an icy sideroad, and hit a utility pole. No injuries, and no damage except to his car. Took five weeks (!) for his car to get repaired. Total repair + car rental bill was about $10,000, thank goodness all was covered by insurance.
- Got tendinitis in my right thumb, was crippled for two weeks but all better now. What a stupid thing I did; maybe I'll tell you about it someday.
- I've selected a Subaru Tribeca for my next car -- it has exceptional reliability and the highest crashworthiness ratings (as specified in this earlier post). It's not tops in the SUV fuel-efficiency department, but is beat only by Subaru Forester which is just too station-wagon-ugly.
- Thanks to spring cleaning day at church, I got help assembling and learning how to use the pressure-washer I bought last year. Now we'll get to wash the green off our siding this spring.
- I love spring, and have been markedly more joyful since our daffodils bloomed.
- Work has been extremely busy but satisfying.
- My parents have been snowbirding in Florida.
- The wallpaper we don't want is still on all our room walls, but half-torn off because we got ambitious before we knew we'd need additional equipment. I've heard it's easy to remove but is just tedious and messy... I think I'll call a wallpaper party and bring over some people who have done it before.
- We discovered the world's best sushi and it's been hard to stay away, excepting the $80 bill for two of us.