Recession Mama

{April 15, 2009}   Tax Day In A Recession. Lovely.

By Carla

tax_daySo here it is, April 15th, TAX DAY…and I have another confession to make. This one may actually be a little more painful than telling the world that I recently started getting my eyebrows shaped at a mall kiosk in order to save money (and not even a Dallas mall…a suburban mall).

So here goes: I have never done my own taxes. That is actually quite embarrassing and hard to admit, being a grown woman and all and having (up until recently) had a thriving career, making very good money, and always surrounded by very smart people.

I told you up front that I was going to be brutally honest. That means throwing myself under the bus whenever necessary…and at times even kicking it into reverse and backing over myself a time or two. Well, fill ‘er up with diesel and fire up the back-up beeps because here we go…

In my (single days) 20’s, I used to pay someone to do my taxes. It always made sense to me to hire a professional to do the heavy lifting if something really boggled my mind …(see: hair nightmare). I simply cannot imagine myself hunkered down on the floor in the family room surrounded by piles of receipts and a giant calculator with a mile-long spool of paper, clicking away at the numbers. The same goes for health insurance paperwork…my brain just isn’t wired to handle that. I’d rather sit in an ant pile.

It’s not in my nature to be still for very long stretches of time. That’s why going into the news business was such a perfect fit for me. Like Katy’s career as a TV producer in L.A., no day in a newsroom is ever the same (and Heather knows this as well, being in the biz). I love(d) the action, the uncertainty of what might come during my shift. So sitting for hours on end…focused on one thing isn’t happening.

These days the hubby does the taxes and it seems that he even enjoys it. He does makes a good point (sorry accountant friends) when he says that the tax preparing people I used to pay are just plugging numbers into a computer program and we can do the same at home. Fair enough. Have at it…just leave me out of it.

That being said, (and I’s never too late) I do wish I had learned or taught myself to do my own taxes. Because if this recession and my layoff have taught me anything, it’s that we are each in charge of our own destiny. That handing your fate over to someone else leaves you with zero guarantees and that taking risks and chances may actually pay off. Had I learned in my 20s how to do my own taxes, maybe I would have been more careful with my money during the rest of the year.

As for the big tax deadline, the hubby is always very much on the ball with that stuff (he has more patience than should be legally allowed) …and our tax refund is already in the bank. Thankfully, that is. Because some of our friends in other states may not be getting ANYthing back, thanks to this recession. Can you even imagine doing your taxes, thinking you have money coming back, then not getting any? Again, ant pile.

Like I said, we did get some back this year and this recession mama would, of course, love to leave that money alone, honey. But there is that old part of me that says “oh, come on…spend a little here and there, it’s fine”.

After all, I’d be helping the struggling economy right? RIGHT?


Teresa says:

Lucky you!!!! getting money back already!!… I love the way you write, you are funny!!!…..

recessionmama says:

Glad you like my posts, Teresa. Sounds like you might not be getting much (if any) money back this year. Try not to think about it. Just put it out of your mind and focus on the things you do have. Thanks for the comment!

Katy says:

I say SAVE the money into your emergency fund. If you really NEED something, (per Heather’s post from yesterday…see Heather…I’m learning already!) maybe budget like 10% of the tax return towards whatever you think you need. Otherwise, the rest should be in your savings account, mama!

I love your honesty, and I can’t believe you have never done your own taxes in your life. I’ve done mine pretty much every year, except for a couple of years. One year, I took it to my friend who’s a CPA. Another year, I did go to H&R Block, but I agree with you and your hubby…I think they’re just putting in the information in a computer just like I’m doing on Turbo Tax. This year, I did pay extra for the deluxe version of TT and I pay for audit defense. Can’t be too careful, in my opinion.

I live in one of those states that is having a hard time paying refunds. I got my federal money about a month before I saw any state money.

Margaret says:

Carla, don’t feel alone. Count me in as one who doesn’t do her own taxes. My parents’ accountant does it for me. You are correct in that they just plug in numbers I can do very well myself, but I guess I have to get over the fear of all the federalese mumble jumble that one must wade through. However, perhaps now is as good a time as any to do my own taxes. A scary prospect to be honest with you.

Another idea for your tax refund: put it in a traditional IRA and get that written off (if you’re of a certain income like me).

recessionmama says:

Good tip, Margaret, thank you. Keep us posted and let us know if you take the next step and start doing them on your own. (Yikes!)

Heather B says:

Tax day is always a whip. I hate it. We never do our taxes. It’s just too complicated especially since my husband owns his own company.So don’t feel bad Carla. We already pay WAY too much in taxes. We write a check every year and I practically cry when I fill in the amount. We would put so much back into the economy and community if our taxes were not so high.We’re actually getting a refund this year because the IRS took too much last year.Surprisingly they realized the mistake. Thousands and thousands of dollars. Uggghh…

I just paid my taxes yesterday, $3400. Then to keep from weeping, I hugged my dog. That at least was free.

I too have always had someone do my taxes. But this past year I got a divorce and my reciepts were all over the place, so I just did a standard deduction and basic tax form on my own. I can’t help but think that once I get my ducks in a row, I might go through the receipts and pay to have someone see if I can get any of that money back. There are benefits to having someone do your taxes for you. They have the patience that I lack!

recessionmama says:

Wow, Heather..I’m amazed that they caught their error AND sent it back.

Jennifer, I love your story about hugging the dog. They don’t care how much money we have or don’t have..they just want to be loved (and have fresh water, food and fun toys!) I’m starting to get the sense that I’m not all that alone in being someone who does not care to mess with all that complex paperwork. But you’re right..I just don’t have the patience at all. Oh and $3,400…Yikes! Bless your heart…


recessionmama says:

The accountants knew how to get it back. So sometimes it does pay to have someone else do it.

Jennifer says:

I am a firm believer in letting someone else do the taxes. I learned my lesson……. thought this is pretty easy and I don’t have any real difficult stuff… so I tried to do them myself several years ago. I messed it up pretty good. Lucky for me I messed it and didn’t get back as much as I should have and the IRS and state of Kansas actually found my mistake and sent me the difference at a later date. But, after that I decided I just needed to leave the number crunching to the pros. We did get back a little this year even with times being a little tight we did decide to use some of it to make some improvements to our backyard. We thought since we spend more time at home now that we should make a little retreat right here at home. My husband is going to do the work himself………. so maybe we will actually get to enjoy it by next tax season!!!!

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