Saturday, February 25, 2006

It's tax time at our house

Since I was so inspired by my beautiful handpainted coffee mug featuring none other than Eastern Arkansas' own ivory-billed woodpecker, I got up this morning excited about doing some more research on the majestic bird as I prepare to write my own personal masterpiece on the subject.

My excitement, however, was soon shattered with my husband's announcement that he wants to do our taxes today. Uhoh. It's not that we'll have to pay in; on the contrary, we usually get a fairly good sum back. The thing is, I don't have any figures ready, not one. I have to collect mileage, expenses, and income for which I have no 1099s. Here's my list of what I have to do:

* Calculate 2005 mileage. This entails flipping through my appointment calendar and penciling in mileage in my log for each trip. Of course I'm supposed to do this after each work-related trip, but it was only logged through May of last year.

* Figure extra income. I do a little contract work for a few companies through the Internet, but I didn't make $600 from any of them last year to qualify for a 1099. One company has the figure posted on my website through them. That'll help.

* Total major expenses. I can't remember what all the tax consultant said constitutes a major expense, but I'll separate the fax machine we bought on the last day of the year along with a computer desk purchased at the very beginning of the year.

* Compute other expenses. This is where the big headache comes in. I have stashed in a small cardboard box receipts for everything from printer cartridges totalling $75 all the way down to mailing envelopes for $1. I have to punch every last figure into the calculator to get this expense total.

* Determine what we paid for utilities last year. We can take a percentage of the utilities as a deduction since I work form home. That's another of the many advantages of being a work at home mom! The thing with that is that all my receipts are thrown in that cardboard box and I have to add it all up together. I'm sure I have to add up each one separately — phone, electricity, and water. I just can't remember from last year, which was our first year to file with me working for myself from home.

That's all I can think of for now. That's enough, isn't it? I'm sure it will get worse once I get into it. I'm sure there are computer programs that I can use that total all this up for me during the year, but I wasn't using one and don't even think I have one on the computer. Maybe that will be a good expense to invest in for tax deduction purposes next year!

Looks like I'll be spending the day with receipts and a calculator. At least I have my handpainted ivory-bill mug to keep full of coffee!

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