March 1, 2019 • Newsletter
This month we’re talking taxes. (Who’s surprised?) Our very own ¡Katie B Funk! shared some musings for this month’s newsletter. Enjoy!
March 2019 Musings
When I was in middle school, I distinctly remember having a terrible, classically angst-ridden day as is often the case for many a sixth grader, but can recall exactly none of the reasons why. It was about the midway point of spring semester, a span of time where weather knows not what it wants in the Midwest. Around the same time, I remember learning about a quasi Greek-meets-astrological belief that your well-being is like a rotating disc, similar to that of a dial on a kitchen timer. When your dial is pointing up towards the top (at and around your birthday), life is good, events are exciting, and the future looks jam packed with promise. As time moves on and the dial begins to turn and start pointing down, (the time of year furthest and most opposite of your birthday) so do you. Life feels miserable, everything feels off, and plans feel pointless. This idea embedded itself deeply into my subconscious and stayed there as an explanation for why things felt so off for me every single winter, February most viciously (shout out to all the owners of an August birthday!). I accepted it wholeheartedly as the reason why as this transitory time comes round year after year, all sixth graders together now: life is just the worst.
Fast forward nearly twenty years later to me trying to perform a simple online search of what exactly this thing is called, and you can find me sheepishly yielding no real results. Surely there is some name out there for this, but with time so has come knowledge, and with knowledge so has come wisdom: life forever ebbs and flows, regardless of labels, horoscopes, numerology jabber, or the weather. Keeping this idea of flexibility and patience in mind, here is what you should be planning for this month.
File Your Taxes
They’re here everybody…
If you have yet to finish your federal and state income tax filings, make sure to do so this month. Even though the due date isn’t officially until April, you do not want to put matters off and risk running into any hiccups that can come with this kind of money management. Whether you have the same accountant you like to utilize each year or are a fan of TurboTax like me, this is one of those things on your forever to do list that must be done eventually, good weather or not.
Speaking of ups and down, your tax refund may be down from last year significantly. According to CNBC’s report “‘The people who are most likely to be surprised this year are the ones who lost some deductions they had last year and who didn’t make changes to their withholding,’ said Nathan Rigney, lead tax research analyst at the Tax Institute at H&R Block.”
If you are unhappy with your 2018 refund, ask about getting a running projection of your 2019 taxes from your tax preparer or accountant to head off any surprises next year. Keep in mind too that any major life changes such as getting married or having children is a reason to review your withholding.
Some taxpayers should pay even closer attention to their W-4s, including those with side jobs in addition to a 9-5 job, itemizers, i.e. the people who itemized their tax returns that may have withheld less tax from their pay, families with dependents due to the new tax law that has done away with personal and dependent exemptions, as well as retirees.
So, perhaps akin to my debunked Greek-meets-astrological belief system of weather = mood, there are many things for taxpayers, AKA everyone, to both learn, know, and decipher what is best for them on a topic that will be forever tricky. Educating yourself on how best to file your taxes, though complicated, frustrating, and at times just plain boring, will ultimately empower yourself financially, sixth grade angst and all.
And though it is the perennial month of love and Punxsutawney Phil’s time to shine, may we all breathe a collective sigh of relief that February, somehow the shortest length, longest feeling month of the year, is finally over.