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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fun with taxes!

It's that time of year again when we Americans saddle up to complete and submit our federal and state income taxes! Woop woop!!!

I like tax season, because between Jesse's military service, our child and childcare expenses, and my student loan interest, we usually get a pretty decent refund. Nothing like a big pot of free money!*

*"free money" = money that we made at our jobs that the government took but shouldn't have. So really it was our money the whole time. But don't you dare ruin my good mood by pointing that out!


Since our tax situation is not overly complicated, I do our taxes myself using TurboTax. TurboTax is pretty idiot-proof, and works by asking you a series of questions until it knows everything it needs to know to file your taxes. Some of those questions amused the shit out of me, so I decided to blog about it.

Early on in the process, TurboTax tries to determine if you have any dependents, because claiming dependents gets you a pretty burly deduction. So it asks if I have any children, and I say yes, and it's like "oh cool, how many? How old are they? What are their names?" and I'm like "it's so nice of you to ask! Most people really don't care. Anyway, I just have the one kid, her name is Audrey and she is a year old. Walking, running, learning how to talk, really cute k--"

And then TurboTax cuts me off and is like "yeah I don't really care about all that. What I really want to know is:

This screenshot is from last year's tax filing, and it forced me to take a hard look at what kind of child I was raising. Not only did Audrey not pay half of her living expenses -- she didn't pay a single goddamned cent. It upset me last year, but let me tell you, this year it made me FURIOUS!

A full year of full-time daycare expense, and Audrey doesn't chip in a dime. Do you think that's cheap? IT ISN'T. A full year of first formula, then solid food; whole milk; diapers. The clothes she grows out of in months; the toys she only plays with for a few days before moving on to something else. Her ketchup budget alone has got to be in the hundreds, if not thousands. And how much did she waste throwing pieces of chicken nugget on the floor and then saying "uh oh!" like it was an accident? Not much, because I always ate them anyway, but still! 

I mean I know she's too young to get a "job" per se, but she could at least mow a few lawns, maybe do a bit of babysitting. Even a few bucks here and there would make a big difference.

Why can't you be more like this kid.

By next year, Audrey, I expect to see some improvements here. But you'd best not actually cover half your living expenses, because I need to claim you as a dependent. If you covered like 49%, that would be the tits.

Next, I moved on to the section on childcare. Apparently, childcare expenses qualify us for a deduction as well. So TurboTax started asking me about that. "Do you pay for childcare? Where?" Once again, I was excited that they were so interested. "Oh, we have this great daycare that's just south of us and we love it!" 

And once again, TurboTax cut me off. "No, just tell me the name and the tax ID number. You sound like you could really use some friends."

So I told TurboTax the required information, ignored the hurtful remark about my lack of friends, and then moved on to the next question: "WHO ARE THESE CHILDCARE EXPENSES FOR?"

And there was a little drop-down menu, offering three choices: 
   Audrey, age 1
   Jamie, age 29
   Jesse, age 32

This set off a whole fantasy sequence in my mind that went on for far longer than it should have. Imagining Jesse, age 32, being sent to daycare each day. I drop him off and kiss his forehead before heading off to work. Audrey, age 1, left for work hours ago. She was out of the house before Jesse even woke up for the day!

At daycare, Jesse does a lot of activities to expand his mind. He colors, he draws, he reads books and learns about body parts and which animals make which sounds. He takes a nap in the middle of the day, and eats a healthy lunch at 10:45AM because that's what time he gets hungry. Every day, when I pick him up, he's covered in cracker crumbs from his most recent snack but he's so happy to see me that I don't care when he gets the crumbs on me.

This fantasy sequence alone was funny enough that I almost selected "Jesse, age 32" from the list ... but TurboTax had already shown me that it didn't really share my sense of humor, so I clicked "Audrey, age 1" and marched steadily on throughout the program, frowning.

Once federal taxes were finished, it was time to do state taxes. Jesse's military home of record is California, which sucks in a big, huge, massive way. California is a garbage state. I mean I guess it's okay if you live there, and the weather is nice, but from a tax perspective, I hope that place burns down (actually, it does burn down regularly and putting those fires out costs a lot of money that comes from taxpayers so I take that back -- I hope California never burns down again).

Luckily, since we don't actually live there, we get most of our money from California back, which is nice. But before they'll put it in my grubby hands, I first have to click through page after page of ridiculous tax incentives to see if I qualify for any of them. Insane shit like "does your car run on composted human waste?" "Is your house heated mainly by positive thoughts and the natural warmth provided by the love of Gaia, our Mother Earth?" And I guess if you answer "yes" to any of these, then you get a tax deduction.

None of these things are true for us, so I was mindlessly scrolling through these lists until I saw something that caught my interest: "Ottoman Turkish Empire Settlement Payment".

The Ottoman Empire: 1350 - 1918. The Empire was dismantled after WWI.

Okay time out: I have had it in for the Ottoman Turkish Empire pretty much since birth. I'm not sure why, but I've been carrying this chip on my shoulder for decades. Those jerks think they can just sit there, being the Ottoman Turkish Empire for hundreds of years? Like there's no consequences for that?


Look at these bastards, taking over so much of the known world during the Middle Ages. Like it's nothing.

And now, finally, the Ottoman Turkish Empire is getting their comeuppance. The people of California will NOT be trod upon by any more Ottoman Turkish Empires, no sir. 

But then I had a terrible realization. Since neither one of us lived in California this year, we weren't entitled to the Ottoman Turkish Empire Settlement Payment. We weren't going to collect a nickel from it.

And so, my grudge against the Ottoman Turkish Empire continues.

Someday, you bastards will pay for what you did. Don't act like you don't know what it was.

Anyway, that's how you do taxes. It's fun, it's easy, and you might even get a tax break! If you really want to play it smart, spend your refund on upgrading your house to run on used tampons, hatred, and banana peels. Next year, you'll be getting even MORE back!

... at least, you will if you live in California. Good luck convincing the federal government that's worth anything.

And if anyone has any job openings for a precocious one-year-old, let me know. Ketchup doesn't pay for itself.

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