I started paying taxes when I was 18, and got a job at a grocery store. I got $200 back that year, and this is the first year I’ve gotten any back since. I see sales advertising “spend your tax refund here!” and I think, “How many people really get money back? Is that even possible any more?”
I’ve done a lot of side work in the last 8 years or so, and I get quite a few 1099’s, so it’s not really a surprise that I owe, but I didn’t get anything back between 19 and 25 either. And the amounts I’ve had to pay have been kind of random. It doesn’t seem to make any sense.
I don’t mind telling people what I pay in taxes, because it appears to have no relevence to what I’ve made in a year.
Last year I did pretty well, I paid the Feds $119, the state nothing, and Grand Rapids $360. This year I made just about exactly the same, both taxed and untaxed and the Feds pay me $1,036, I pay the State $28, and the City of Grand Rapids $629.
What’s up with the City? Why in the world do I pay them so freakin’ much? Make it stop!
On another note, TurboTax.com is probably one of the largest, slickest web based form interface I’ve ever seen. The amount of DHTML that’s in there that is truly functional is amazing, leaving out fluff. They do a GREAT job of never making me question “Am I going to lose anything if I click this other thing?”.
Furthermore, if you do it every year, they remember your stuff from last year, so research I did in previous years about what numbers and ID’s I need to classify my side work is still there. It compares choices I made last year with choices I made this year, and makes suggestions. Really excellent stuff.
Oh, and you don’t pay to use it until you file. So you don’t pay $40 up front only to realize you don’t know what you’re doing and have to go hire someone anyway. And you can do them way early, and find out whether you need a second mortgage to pay your taxes, or simply sell your car, and save up to pay them.