I finally did it. I broke down and did my taxes last night. I’ve been in a bad mood ever since. Like, “What am I doing with my life?” bad mood. So really we’re not going to talk so much about death; we will mostly focus on taxes and why they’re so stupid and I hate them.
Last year, or rather 2018, I “earned” approximately $25,000 more than I did this year. I put earned in quotation marks because more than half of my income came from spousal support. Jerry Lee paid in full each month and in addition to that he paid a hefty amount in back support from 2017. Yet somehow I got a small refund of approximately $600 back last year and this year I owe the federal government. It’s not a lot- $280, maybe? But still! How do I count $25,000 less in income and owe them money?
More importantly my actual earned income went up slightly (very slightly- less than $2000) while my non-taxed income went down significantly. I note that only because it means I was paying the same as or more in payroll taxes as I did last year, while receiving a lot less non-taxed income.
I don’t get the child tax credit for my son anymore because he turned 17 last year but that’s only $2500. Hmmm…. $2500 less in deductions/credits versus $25,000 less in income? I would think I should still be ahead.
I did withdraw $3800 from my IRA so that brings the difference in income down to around $20,000. I did, however, pay taxes on that money. I did not receive the full $3800. My finance guy withdrew the $3800 so I could get the money I needed and the rest went to pay the taxes. I did have to pay an additional $380 penalty but again… versus $20,000 in lost income?
I suppose the good news is that I only owe the state a little over $800 this year as opposed to the $2200 I had to pay last year.
I try to be thankful. I try to be rational. I see TurboTax do that initial refund. Every year after I put in my information from my W-2 they tell me it’s going to be my biggest year ever. Every year that tax refund shows up as over $6000. Then I put my alimony in and it drops like a rock. Apparently even more so this year than last year when he paid me $25,000 less.
I’ve been trying to tell myself that even if I’m not one of those single moms out there getting a hefty tax refund like everyone seems to think we get I should be thankful I get spousal support. A lot of people don’t. I tell myself that if I do a comparison analysis I’m still coming out ahead. I can take the $6400 or $6700 tax refund once a year and stretch it, or I can take a monthly payment which will surpass that amount in a matter of months, and put some aside for taxes. What’s $1000 in exchange for what I’m getting each month?
Then I look into the future. A future where I’m only claiming single because both of my kids are no longer dependents. And I panic. If I’m paying this much in taxes already when I still have two dependents how much am I going to have to come up with when it’s just me? I’m envisioning having to pay $5,000-$6,000 to the federal government. God only knows how much I’ll have to pay the state! At that point it becomes almost ridiculous to even receive spousal support. I’ll be paying 30-40% of it back to the damn government.
It’s so frustrating. Back when I was married and we were living on six figures we got a tax refund every year. He upped the exemptions because he was tired of getting a $5000 refund each year; he didn’t want to give the government a free loan. We still got around $1500 back. Now I live on a fraction of that and I PAY every year. I may not always pay the federal government but I definitely pay the state.
Realistically I know that he paid a shit ton of taxes. His bonus check was taxed at 39%. That was a huge part of it. He paid enough into Medicare, I believe it was, that he got a mini “raise” mid-year because they didn’t take any more out.
It all makes me hate him even more. He couldn’t have pulled this shit when the kids were younger. Oh no! Had to wait until they were 15 and 13 to pull this crap. That way when I finally had to start filing taxes on my own I could have an adventure every year! It’s never the same thing twice. One year I get both kids as a tax credit. The next year I only get one. Then I get none!
The first year I had no job until October 31st but everyone had their hand out, wanting to get paid on the massive $23,000 I received in spousal support the first 5 months of the year. I went through that and every penny I had in savings trying to stay afloat after he lost his job and declined to send any money to help support his kids for the next ten months.
The second year I finally had a full time job AND a part time job through August, but he wasn’t paying regular support. And then he paid a large amount of back support.
The third year he paid support regularly and again paid back support, while the fourth year he shorted me almost $11,000. Years three and four I only had the one full time job.
Next year my son graduates. He has no plans to go on to college so I’m expecting he’ll get a full time job and probably want to start claiming himself. A year after that my daughter will graduate from college. I’ll be filing single and getting fucked every year when it comes to taxes. Hooray!
It enrages me, too, because not only did he wait until my life was practically over to pull this shit but also he gets a nice big tax refund every year because he gets to deduct all of that spousal support. So while he and Harley bring home over $200,000 a year at this point they get a substantial refund every year. Meanwhile, little ol’ me, with my huge $60,000, will be paying as much as they’re receiving. What utter bullshit.
For the first time in my life I’m actually saving money. My mother would be so proud. I have frequently said I know what to do with money; I just don’t do it. As I’ve said before I am currently saving all of the child support I receive so that when he stops paying it next June I’m not suddenly floundering, trying to figure out how to live on $900 less per month. When I began I wasn’t saving the full child support amount because he wasn’t paying full spousal support. I saved enough that I was still only using my salary plus the full amount of spousal support. Honestly, I was feeling pretty good about that. He’s been paying full spousal support for a couple of months so I’ve been able to save even more.
Today as I was driving to work I decided I needed to open yet another account to set aside money for taxes. If I have to pay the kind of money I think I’m going to have to pay I may as well start setting aside even more money and not allowing myself to think that I can use all of the spousal support. I mean, I don’t let myself get down to a few pennies in my checking account. Hell, it’s been a while since I’ve even been down to a few hundred dollars; I like to keep a cushion. But nonetheless, instead of thinking, “Okay, I’ve got this much left over!” I’m trying to think, “i’ve got to put this aside and this aside and this.” Because let’s face it, once child support ends the biggest part of my savings is going to evaporate. I’m already going to have to put a big chunk (well, 20% or so) of spousal support aside for taxes. I probably should also set aside some more for car repairs, Christmas gifts, vacations, etc.
See? I’m not just whining. I’m being proactive. I think my next proactive step is going to be looking for another job. I can’t keep doing this. I need a job where I make more than I receive in spousal support. That’s the only way I’m going to keep my tax bill down. I’m already paying as much in taxes as I can. I take zero exemptions and it’s still not enough.
Furthermore, I found out the other day that my company has put a freeze on raises. My boss was planning on making me a higher grade in May, which is Friday. At this point it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I don’t know how long this raise freeze will last. I do know our profits are down by about 25% and if this shelter in place crap keeps going on much longer I’m sure we’ll suffer even bigger losses and once we’re finally all allowed to come out they still won’t allow raises because they didn’t make as much money as they wanted.
My co-worker who was also supposed to get this raise told me she had heard the raise is rather substantial, but I’m not going to wait another year for it, especially if that means I won’t be made a Rep II until my next review. I’ll end up getting that as my raise instead of getting a raise and then getting a promotion. No thank you. If I can find something that will pay me what I would be making with the raise I’ll leave in a heartbeat. I’m tired of not making enough money to support myself and my kids. I’ve got a goddamn college education, which my company constantly pushes. They are always urging people to go back to school and they even offer tuition reimbursement if it’s for a degree you could use working for them. I have a work history including the years before I made the mistake of staying at home. And I’m a fucking fantastic worker. I deserve to make enough to live on.
End of rant.