Random Shitpost Tuesday Society Sucks

Shitpost Tuesday: Taxes are FUN

A lengthy rant about taxes.

Shitpost Tuesday where I force myself to write whatever in an attempt to stop thinking so much about qUaLiTy. Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite winter/springtime activity: taxes!

The day after Valentine’s Day. (And why doesn’t that have its own post yet?) An unremarkable day except for the fact that my stock broker, Ally Invest, has today as its deadline for providing me with my 2021 portfolio statements. I checked and wouldn’t ya know it, they had the documents uploaded way back on February 12th.

And I guess now the procrastinating can start. UPS gave me my 1099-DIV way back in November — I don’t even know where it currently is — which was followed by my W-2, the bread-and-butter of a tax return. Amazon provided me with a 1099-MISC (because I made like $30 selling my book) and my banks provided me with various 1099-INTs for, well, interest. Some healthcare documents and a bunch of other random shit and here we are today. With the 1099s from Ally and Robinhood my collection is complete; I’ve caught all the Pokemon tax forms and I can now file my tax return…someday.

It needs its own proper post, really, but fuck taxes. I hate doing them. The sad part is I used to like doing them. I still do my mom and sister’s taxes and they’re actually enjoyable in their simplicity. Anyone who has done ‘simple taxes’ know exactly how streamlined the process is even without using tax prep software. To sum up: you enter how much money you’ve made. You subtract your standard deduction. You look the following number up in the tax table and note how much you’re supposed to pay in taxes. Compare this to how much you actually paid and, bam, you’re basically done. If you paid too much you get money back, and if you didn’t pay enough you owe the government some cash. Mentally this only takes a couple of minutes and filling out the form and double checking your math/hunting for the illusive Earned Income Credit (EIC, which you won’t qualify for anyways) adds maybe 20 or 30 minutes. It’s easy.

I have a personal rule that goes something like this: I will always know how to do my taxes. It’s a matter of principle. I don’t want to be reliant on some random company to make sure my taxes are done correctly. I don’t want to be so lost on the tax code that the government just takes my money and I shrug and say, “Okay. I guess.” While I’ve used Turbo Tax the past couple of years out of laziness I still know what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’ I guess. I will still look at the 1040 (the standard tax return form) and do a quick run-through to see roughly how much I’ll get back. Last year I had that shit spot on with the number Turbo Tax gave me. I felt proud about that.

Taxes aren’t hard, they’re just annoying as fuck. It starts with the ‘easy taxes’ when you get your first job. As life adds complexities, so do your taxes; they get messy. But the learning curve is still pretty gentle. You open up a savings account and the next year you get a 1099-INT form to claim as income. It’s only a few dollars but it gets your feet wet on the 1099 tax forms. Just like that you’ve leveled up. If you get married you get to take a fatter standard deduction — not complicated at all — and things are still pretty chill. Things get messy quickly if/when you have kids to claim. Then you’re filling out EIC forms, tracking down their social security numbers and doing a few worksheets from the instruction book. “‘Are you a member of The Clergy?’ No…” The Child Tax Credit is now a thing and with persistence you make it through okay. Not bad, not good, but doable. Kids also fuck your taxes up because you’ll probably get a fat return each year. No fat return unless you file, so it feels even more like a job than before.

And fucking stocks. Fuck stocks and taxes. It’s a mess. There’s separate categories for ‘long-term’ gains (and losses. Mostly losses…), ‘short-term gains,’ uncovered tax lots, covered tax lots, things not reported to the IRS and things reported to the IRS. Each year I have to relearn what the hell I’m doing. Oh yeah, and wash sales. I’ll link to that so you can read about wash sales if you want. And crypto! Crypto is treated just like stocks except crypto exchanges don’t really provide tax information like stock brokers do; you’re on your own to keep track of your crypto trading and if you ignore claiming it, well, you better hope the IRS doesn’t get too curious.

(The tax highlight of my life was about five years ago. I had crypto gains that would disqualify us from taking the EIC so had to resort to some mild ‘accounting trickery’ to lower my gains. I didn’t lie exactly — just changed how I calculated my cost basis — and it all worked out okay. That was the only time I got into the nitty-gritty about how I was reporting stuff to the IRS and it wasn’t fun at all, but boy was I proud of my work.)

Part of why I like taxes is how clear the tax code is. It reminds me of math in a way; there’s a clear set of rules to follow and as long as you follow the rules you can’t screw anything up. Math, unlike music or literature, does have a right answer and there’s no room for your interpretation to get something wrong. Taxes are just like this. A kid lived with you for nine months in the year: can you claim them? The IRS gives you a clear timeframe in the instructions (which I think is six or more months but don’t quote me on that) with no room for personal interpretation. If they lived with you shorter than the specified timeframe no dependent for you, and longer than that, yes. Easy. Many times while filing taxes you’re asked something like, “If line 6 is less than line 4, subtract 6 from 4 and enter this onto line 7. If line 6 is more than 4, skip lines 7-9 and go to line 10.” Yes, complicated, but very clear as to what you need to do. Just do this for a few hours and you’ll have your taxes done. With the infinite knowledge of the internet at your fingertips anyone should be able to do their own taxes with enough motivation and time.

It’s also helpful to break taxes up into a bunch of smaller steps. Filing a tax return works this way; it’s not a massive interconnected thing and you just work on one thing at a time. First is dependents, then income, then deductions, and so on. Sure, each one of these steps can be difficult, but even those can be broken down into smaller parts. Focus on the W-2s first, then knock out dividend income, interest income, stock income, and so on. It’ll be a mess and the entire time you’ll be worried that you’ve done something wrong but you can always double-check your math.

And you know what, that was an aimless enough rant and I’m surprised I wrote that much about taxes. What can I say, I kinda like doing them even if they are a pain in the ass. It’s something I’m good at. I like numbers and I like following clear-cut rules even if it gives me a fucking headache because the tax code is so messy. Maybe I should be an official tax preparer? Naw, fuck that, because then I’m on the line if I fuck something up. Thanks for reading and good luck on those 1040s guys!

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My other blog where I sometimes never post stories but might get around to it sometime soonish.

By TheBlackhairedGuy

I'm a guy. And I have black hair. Well not really because it is slowly turning grey. I suppose TheNotquiteBlackhairedGuy doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it? I write the blog as well as dabble in some freelance writing.

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