Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tax time again

So I filed my taxes back in January (although they won't be processed til sometime after tomorrow, because of changes in tax law, apparently). But I also got a pretty big good, since that means I'm paying too much and not making interest on it.

Obviously, the magic formula is to withhold exactly the right amount. I wouldn't want to owe a whole bunch at the end of the year either, even if I could easily cover the difference. So I did a little research, which basically said to consult the IRS withholding calculator (well duh) and then complete a submit a new tax form. I'm actually able to change my tax form online, so I logged into that system as well.

You're supposed to have your most recent pay stub, as well as last years taxes, so I grabbed my paystub and pulled up a pdf of the taxes. I got through the first two pages quickly (because the first one is easy and the second one is about kids I don't have), and then...I stopped knowing the answers.

Enter your total 2011 contribution to a tax-deferred retirement plan, FSA or HSA. I know what those are. I know I have an FSA, and I'm fairly sure I have a tax-deferred retirement plan as well (is that a TSA? I know I have that...) But if I do have that tax plan, I don't what the contributions are, and neither number is on my last tax return. The last item on retirement link identified my Tax-Sheltered Annuity, and I'm hoping thats my 403(b) deferred savings I see on my paycheck, at $50 per check ($1200/year?), and my FSA is $15.39 each pay period, which I'll assume means $360 per year. Both of these things make me nervous, because some deductions are taken monthly, but neither amount is huge (especially the confusing FSA much did I put?), so I don't think I'd be off by too much. I'm also not sure if I deduct all of those amounts out of my summer paychecks. (Teaching paychecks work funny, so thats not unlikely). Anyhow, I ballparked that one at $1500 and moved on.

At this point, I'm going: note to self, next time don't say you have two jobs when one of them barely counts and you already know it isn't the problem. (I have $1000 of income. Please.) (Also then it gets mad because I stopped entering the numbers for that job and I had to go back and fix it.)

Enter an estimate of your 2011 adjustments to income, including alimony paid, deductible IRA contributions, and education loan interest: was my next stumbling block. Mostly because I'm not sure what that means either. I don't have the examples, but do they mean are you getting a raise? Because I am. One in March and another in August.

I left it blank. Because obviously I have no clue what I'm doing. Then I moved on to the next page, all about itemized deductions. (At this point I actually walked away from the computer to procrastinate for awhile, because I was confused). When I returned, I determined that those words looked familiar and pretty much copied all the amounts off of my last tax return. Hopefully they're still the same. I already know I want to increase my charitable giving, so I did change that.

My results came back (I was nervous for that last question, since I was pretty much out of answers and worried there would be a whole 'nother page of things I don't know). In case you care, I should have 4 exemptions, and I only had 1. This should give me a refund of $675, which is fine with me, particularly since I probably answered some questions wrong.

I just finished it up by updating my W4 online (poorly formatted...I'm pretty sure I did it right, but all the legal stuff always makes me nervous, and I worry I'm going to accidentally say I don't owe taxes or something. When really I just couldn't figure out which button to push.)

Looking at last years taxes, I overpaid by about $200/month, so that hopefully means I'll be seeing an extra $100 each paycheck. Nice!

Any questions? (Who am I kidding...I would not be very helpful. But at least now I know where to go to make an attempt at fixing it!)

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