They may seem dull to those who don’t enjoy numbers or taxes, but tax preparers see people in ways that even their spouses often do not witness. Accordingly, they are great social observers, and have plenty of witty observations which cut through the staid veneer that they present to the outside world. Here are eight things your tax preparer might be clued into, which might make you the butt of funny stories:
You’re less than generous. If you’ve dutifully saved all of your donation receipts from the prior year, yet the sum total is well below $50, you’re not going to look much better than Scrooge.
Solution: If you must, let them know that you’re new to donating and trying to really identify the best (and most trustworthy) places to donate your money. Plus, the economy is bad, so any kind of donating is helpful.
You can also search for charities, and their tax deductions, on the IRS website.
You care disproportionately about money. If you inquire about whether you can write off your kid’s birthday party, or even Christmas decorating expenses – since you had a work comrade over during the holidays, after all – your tax preparer will think you’ve only thrown these events as a means to reduce your tax bill.
Solution: If you’re needing to deduct things like Christmas decorating expenses, try setting side money, monthly, for such expenses so you won’t feel the itch when it comes to tax time. If you do online banking with certain banks, they often divide your expenses into categories. Bank of America, for instance, lets you divide your own- you can make “other misc. expenses” section and plan for parties.
You don’t care very much about fun. If every spare penny goes into your various retirement accounts, and zero is spent on an entertainment budget, you’re not going to look savvy. You’re going to look like someone who neither enjoys work – since you obviously want to retire as fast as possible – nor pleasure!
Solution: If you feel like your tax preparer is judging you (which they may, or may not, be) let them know you come from a family where hard work was always rewarded, and you’re trying your best to make your retirement as comfortable as possible- as early as possible. It’s the financially responsible thing to do.
Putting aside a certain percentage of your paycheck into a high-interest savings (putting away 10%, for example) that you can’t deduct from. This will keep your little fingers off, and your cash gaining interest.
Disorganization is a way of life in your house. When you show up with a plastic bag stuffed with every conceivable tax related document, plus a few additional bits such as your grocery store receipts, your tax preparer will wonder if you’ve also included the upright vacuum manual!
Solution: There are plenty of different filing cabinet styles, accordion folders, and other ways to store your tax information. You can also use items, like NeatDesk, which will allow you to scan and record everything and get rid of your clutter.
If your weekly paycheck stubs all show 70 hours or more, it’s going to be obvious that you’re more interested in cash than in spending quality time with a significant other! Workaholics are the only ones who really work the same number of hours in one week that other people typically squeeze into two weeks.
Solution: Let your tax preparer know that family is extremely important to you- and supporting them is one of the greatest things you can do for your family. Working overtime to save more money should be applauded.
As stated above, you can also put your “over-time” money into a separate high-interest savings account. This way, you can survive on your regular 40 hours, and have a nice cushion for family emergencies or future needs.
Your lack of career creativity. When your paycheck stubs show only a single employer since you graduated college, it might show you to be something different than a super reliable individual, as you envision yourself. Sometimes it demonstrates your fear to face the waters of a job shift or career change, which could stir up your life for the better.
Solution: If you find a career that you love, that pays well, then why leave? You’re more likely to get financial benefits from a company the longer you stay. I’m sure, by this point, you’re getting contributions to an IRA/retirement fund, possibly some stock in the company, health benefits, and everything else that matters as you get older and have a family.
Look into what your company offers for long-time employees. This can often help you decide whether it’s worth staying at- or financially responsible to find another company that provides what you need.
Conversely, if you’ve got some paycheck stubs from a saucy place such as an adult themed store, your tax preparer might just develop an extra interest in you. If they find you attractive, that is…
Solution:…Well, nothing I can really say about this one.
If you’ve got a lot of unexplained hotel visits mingled into your local expense reports, your tax preparer may suspect you’re looking for action. Even if you merely like to treat yourself to a nice night away from home every once in a while!
Solution: Scan all of your traveling or hotel receipts into your computer- and make note of exactly what they were for (traveling for business, family trips, etc) so that you have it categorized- which is beneficial for you and your tax preparer. Plus, they won’t get shady eyes at you!
Strange, slightly humorous conclusions are easy to draw, particularly when you hand someone ‘the keys to the safe,’ as tax preparation documents essentially are. Tax records provide a glimpse into your life, but they aren’t something that you need worry excessively about. Don’t let fear of a few knowing smirks prevent you from seeking help with your taxes. There’s plenty of discounts available at various places- H & R Block coupons are floating around, along with others- to save money this coming tax season. Don’t go broke while doing your taxes.
This is a guest post by Jennifer Williams. She is a writer, turned traveler, turned blogger, and wants to share her nomad lifestyle adventures and love of technology with anyone who will listen. You can find her on Twitter @JtotheWilliams.