Saturday, February 7, 2009

For me, it's Tax Weekend

This weekend should give us hope that this seemingly very long winter is nearing its end. Sure, we still have most of March, along with the rest of February, to go, but it seems like winter began two years ago. The hard part to believe is what I saw on Fonzi Cupo’s weather forecast the other night…this winter’s snowfall is actually below last year’s, although both winters are/were above normal.

We’re led to believe the weather Saturday will reach into the thirties and then Sunday, oh, boy! Sunday could reach into the forties. The temperatures will return to the twenties Monday and then back into 30s and 40s; those readings will be a whole lot nicer than the teens and below we’ve experienced this past week. Old Fearless Friend has a fantastic success and look at the weather that brought!

My Fearless Friend got the expected good news Friday that his second eye cataract surgery went extremely well. He is so happy he can see clearly out of both eyes. Of course there is a time of recovery and the doctor told him it usually is eight weeks. But FF wants to get to Florida and there’s an excellent chance he’ll be heading there long before those eight weeks are up.

This should be a happy weekend in the Gator household. Gator daughter and her dog will be over both days. The weather will be wonderful for the two dogs, hers and ours, to romp around the yard, chase each other, and probably even do some wrestling on the snow. They will probably be a little wet, but both can use the exercise. We have nothing else planned and no work for GD to help us with.

I mentioned a while ago that I was doing my own taxes this year to see how that would work out. I’m planning on completing the process this weekend. For several years I’ve taken my information to an accountant to do them for me. I’ve had some complex situations that would be best resolved by a professional.

Most of those situations have come to an end and, with the economy tanked the way it is, my investment income is also down. With not much else to do, this seemed like a good year to see how I’d make out if I did the taxes myself. I bought a tax preparation software package to see how it worked. Very simple is my experience. Just answer a few questions, give it some numbers, and voila! tax done.

Since I haven’t relied on a tax software package, I figured I’d do it the long way, too. So far that’s proving to be a waste of time. Every single piece of information and every calculation I’ve made in a tedious exercise has completely reflected the results of the tax software. I’ll be completing my part of the task this weekend and I’ll be totally surprised now if my end results are different from those of the software.

I haven’t yet decided, however, if the results of either of these efforts will be the ones I file or if I’ll end up returning to the accountant for his effort. I might have him do it at least one more year and compare his results with mine.

Speaking of taxes, if you’re a senior I hope you are familiar with a new senior standard deduction. It is significantly higher than the regular standard deduction. I’ve always itemized my deductions, or I should say my accountant has. Because of changing conditions I barely exceeded the old standard with our itemized deductions and the new senior standard one, which includes a provision to include some of real estate taxes, gives me a very nice break.

Seniors who do their own taxes or family members who help out their senior relatives should visit the I-R-S web site and download Publication 554 Tax Guide for Seniors for use in preparing 2008 forms. Maine also has an increased standard deduction for seniors. The booklets one gets from both the federal and state revenue services with the tax forms also covers the new standard deduction for seniors.

I’d like to believe that the various agencies in our state that offer free tax help for seniors completing their forms are very familiar with the senior deductions. If you use one of those services, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to ask and make sure.

By the way to all you youngsters: I’m of course referring here to “seniors” in age, i.e., 65 and older, not to seniors in school.

I hope you have a great weekend and we’ll be back Monday.



Sheepish Annie said...

I started doing my own taxes a few years ago and never looked back. Once I realized that my accountant was using the same program that I could find on the shelves at WalMart, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Hope you enjoyed the lovely weather today!

GiM said...

For a while I had some really complex situations, but they all ended in the last two years so I thought I'd give it a try. My daughter has been using the software for several years. She's an accountant. I figured if it were good enough for her, it should be for me, too.

We totally enjoyed the great day and the dogs spent most of it outside. They are bushed. I hope you enjoyed it also.