This is February.
February is the month that most taxpayers file their taxes. For me, February is psychotically rushed and invigoratingly busy. It's the month where my dreams are occupied by hot 'n steamy demons that resemble tax forms, publications, credits, instructions, and deductions.
Just the other night, in fact, I had a dream that I was helping some scientist tag spiders -- you know to track them much like you'd count sheep herds, habits, and whatnot. The scientist handed me a pile of bright orange tags and gruffly commanded me to tag the itty-bitty, eight-legged monsters. I looked down at these tags, and was taken a-back with horror because each of those tags was labeled with a giant 4562. This 4562 is the form needed to report and calculate depreciation and amortization.
Another night, one a couple of weeks ago, I dreamt that the current Egypt quagmire was all over the complexities of a Traditional to Roth IRA conversion. "It's too complicated!" One side said, while the other said, "We want it complicated!"
February is obsessively and all-consumingly commoving. I eat, drink, sleep, parent, exercise, drive, and get busy with taxes on the mind. I just can't turn it off.
I purchased a pair of running shoes on the internet, and while doing so remembered that the state of Colorado removed their use tax entry from their return this year, so taxpayers must actually file a separate form to pay their use tax.
I read a post from SkiBikeJunkie, one in the which he all hailed Detroit, and I sank into my chair because of the doom and gloom associated with helping people get their dad-gummed Michigan Homestead Tax Credit. Then I sank even deeper into that chair -- which, mind you, has a permanent indentation of my butt -- because Wisconsin's Homestead Credit is twice as murky. And three times as doomy and gloomy!
Someone mentioned an early retirement the other day, (Watcher, I believe) and I immediately thought of his social security taxability threshold. I don't know the guy. I know nothing of his retirement, and I certainly know nothing of his net worth, yet somehow I'm concerned with the taxable amount of social security he'll end up with at 65.
Any time I hear the number seven, I think of the 1099-R form that reports retirement income, and the distribution code entered in box seven of that 1099-R. Then I think about a "7" being normal, and a "1" being all about that extra 10% penalty, which then leads me to the W2 statement and box 12. Where Q is used to report combat pay, and W is for HSA contributions.
I looked at the Christmas card the other day, and it reminded me of how property taxes went down significantly this year, which ultimately led to an escrow refund that paid for said Christmas cards. Then I thought about Schedule L. And how it no longer adds the property tax deduction to the standard.
I also know of someone who lost their job and is currently withdrawing unemployment benefits. So immediately I tell them (without an inquisition of course) that they won't be able to deduct the first $2400 in unemployment income; that congress did away with the $2400 unemployment deduction and all unemployment is taxable again.
A work buddy from my former work-place phoned last Friday with the saddest of news. His wife had left him, and the big "D" was on the way. My first thought was not, "How did this happen? What will you do?! " It was, "Ah crap does that mean you'll need to file married separate for 2010? How will you split your dependents? How will you split your deductions?" He spilled his guts about particulars, and the only reassurance I could provide was, "Dude. Alimony is tax deductible."
On more than one occasion, I have gone to bed stewing over a particular problem, only to wake with a start after a few hours. I had finally realized that whats-their-name's Earned Income Credit was different than expected because half of the self-employment tax needed subtracting from the earned income.
And just three days ago, we started the day without any milk. Instead of thinking "I need to go for groceries," I thought about moving to Idaho because they have a grocery credit. And whence I fetched the milk at the grocer, a sign overhead said, "On Sale Today! Only 5.96." That's when I said out load to a local stranger that IRS publication 596 explains the Earned Income Credit. It also provides the necessary worksheets. Yes, worksheet(s). In the plural. Use Worksheet B if you are self employed.
Again, this is February. It turns me into a starry-eyed creature that either over-thinks stuff, or responds with a "Wait.... What...?"
I like this "Wait... What...?" business. Have you every tried it? I swear it gets you out of all sorts of commitments and responsibilities. When a neighbor says, "Can you carpool?" I can say "Wait... What...?" When asked about laundry, dishes, homework, and my current state of filth, I can simply reply with "Wait... What...?"
I think I'll try this "Wait... What...?" at work tomorrow. When Charles Go-Fer-Broke asks about his partial residency in Yonkers and New York City, I'll just say, "Wait... What...?" Then when Yolanda's Yodeling and Escort Enterprise -- which, let's face it, is a nonpassive activity partnership because of Yodeling Yancey -- inquires about her K-1 not jiving or even passing through to Schedule SE, I'll just say, "Wait... What...?
This is February. It's an entire month, where every nook and cranny of my tiny little mind is preoccupied with all things tax -- from the federal 1040 to Schedule F, and 42 different states. Every February is this nuts, and the nuttiness waxes exponential each year. Truthfully -- and just between you and me -- I like this nutiness. Business is good. The workload reduces itself to a simmer for March, then boils again for two weeks in April. When April comes and goes, the business is like a nice luke-warm bath tub. Relaxing. Soothing. Refreshing. Predictable. Planable.
This is when "Wait... What...?" will prolly turn into "Now... What...?"