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July 2014
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One of the Realities of Uneven Year-to-Year Income

We had a financial boom year last year, which means we had a big tax bill this year. It also means that our estimated tax payments for this year are recommended at a rate that would cover us having a boom this year too. In theory this is setting us up for a tax return next year, but I don’t count that money until I see the paperwork that says I get it back. I’m certain that there were financial moves that I should have taken last year to smooth all of this out. Last year I was also dealing with major family transitions and mental health issues for multiple family members. I did not pay attention as I should have. Howard and I have had many conversations about this and we’ve taken steps to readjust the ways that we manage our emotions and anxiety surrounding money. I still feel bad about about it. It was my job and I feel like I didn’t do it right, but I’m doing better now and will continue to do so going forward.

All of this means we’re being careful about spending this year. We’ve built in more accountability, more reports, and less avoidance. I probably won’t feel confident about my financial skills until after next tax season. The new structures have us headed in the right directions, but far more slowly than I would like, because so much money is getting sucked into that quarterly estimated tax payment. It also means that this year, when federal financial aid for Kiki’s college tuition would be very helpful, we’re unlikely to get it. Because they’re looking at the tax records for last year, the boom year. I filled out the FAFSA anyway. Now I’m off to do things which will earn money.

3 comments to One of the Realities of Uneven Year-to-Year Income

  • Janci

    You probably already know this, but it is 100% legal for you to base this year’s estimated tax payments on this year’s income, rather than last year’s income. I just want to be sure that this is a choice you made because you decided this way was better and not because you didn’t know.

    • Logically I know this is true. Emotionally, I have severe anxiety at the thought of another big tax bill. The resource that I used to buffer this year’s bill became permanently unavailable two days after I pulled money for this year’s bill. I’ll probably feel more comfortable with paying less as we get closer to the end of the year and I can see exactly how this year’s income compares to last year’s.

      I’m also making us live lean as part of a financial reset. I had some sloppy financial habits to rectify. So, no, we’re not powerless. I’m just trying to navigate a smart path between paying bills and reducing anxiety. …and part of my brain is certain I’m getting it wrong.

  • Janci

    Interesting. I’m always happy when we have to pay taxes, because that means we made more than last year! When we get a return, it’s super depressing. 🙂