Tax refund is pending in our second checking account right now. Somewhere I saw that it would arrive March 12. It's arrival is about a week sooner than I expected.
I really, really want to add this to the Big Goal. And I probably can, but then just back it out later if needed.
Another part of me thinks I should put it towards college tuition expenses since the refund can be directly attributed to taking the American Opportunity Tax credit.
I also know that I could send it various places too.
I think I'm conflicted about where to allocate it because of some bigger outflows happening right now. Spent over $800 on plane tickets for our daughters to come home for spring break. We need to pay the VA for the overpayment they sent the University (and University sent to us). I think there is something else too.
Once I work through my emotions and review our budget in YNAB a bit more, I think I can eventually make a decision. It's been several years since we had a refund and I wasn't expecting one...so I wasn't making plans on what to do with it!
I'll be back to let you know once I decide for sure!
Viewing the 'Taxes' Category
Tax refund is pending in our second checking account right now. Somewhere I saw that it would arrive March 12. It's arrival is about a week sooner than I expected.
I could have filed much earlier this month, but honestly it was wearing me out each time I attempted it.
Each of the two colleges we are working with fill out their 1098-T forms slightly different. One school includes the books, the other does not. One school includes the required activity fee and the other does not. I was a bit surprised by this, but found a resource that schools should be using as guidance for filling out these forms and used that as my guideline. We also had money paid on our behalf by the VA, but have to pay back, that was not reflected, nor did H&R block have a way to ask or handle this situation. This probably makes no sense to most of you, but just know that different institutions fill out their 1098-Ts differently based on their interpretation of the law. I think some parents/students at one institution are probably losing out on some qualified expenses if they only rely on the 1098-T.
I feel 99% confident I did it correctly. We claimed the American Opportunity Credit for both girls this year. Neither one them had expenses that qualified for the full amount offered, but we ended up with a refund of $1,968.
It's been a few years since we had a refund as I've been able estimate our future tax and withholding pretty well. This year I forgot about the Dependent Tax Credit ($500) for a dependent that qualifies over 18. This was $1000 in our favor. I also decided to claim the AOTC for our younger daughter, although originally wasn't going to.
I'm pretty sure this money will go towards future college expenses rather than the Big Goal.
Have you completed your taxes?
Edited to add: We do file state income tax, but our home state does not tax active duty military wages, so no refund or payment ever required unless I start working or we earn a LOT of interest.
It's been a whirlwind of a year! In the last couple weeks, I've been starting to panic, wondering if I actually figured our tax situation out for 2018 in light of the new tax laws. I vaguely remembering need to wait to figure things out. But did I ever go back and review?
Yesterday, I hopped on the IRS Withholding Calculator to see where things stood. Luckily, at least in my mind, we are good. We will owe money but it should not be more than $540. I had increased our withholding which meant $90 more in our pocket each month, or by the time it took effect in February, $990 more for the year.
The calculations only took into account the American Opportunity Tax Credit I plan to take for our oldest daughter (for the final time, as it can only be used for four years). I did not take into account any credits for our youngest daughter. Because she only attended one semester in 2018, I plan to take the Lifetime Earning Credits on her qualified tuition, which should give us at least a credit of $300+ for the semester. That brings the tax owed around $240.
It is possible we will have a little more income added and more tax, but that's not looking too promising at the moment. I expect that anything that occurs is something we can handle. I have always preferred owing a few hundred dollars rather than have the IRS hold our money for many months before getting a refund. I've managed to make this work several years in a row now!
Have you reviewed your tax withholding and how that may affect if you owe the IRS or will get a refund? April 15th is just four months away. It's good to be prepared. The IRS Withholding Calculator is https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator
The new IRS Withholding Calculator is now available. You can find it https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator I have yet to double check ours, but I know a few of you JUST updated your withholding allowances. So check again!
It is important to check for your current paychecks and filing for next year since the tax laws have changed for 2018. I personally like to try to get as close as possible to what I will actually owe at tax time. In fact, I don't mind paying as long as I'm not off by more than a few hundred dollars. This year we owe $91, which I set up for payment tomorrow.
Let me know...did you have to adjust your withholding allowances for the new tax law?
So finally, after many issues last month, I was able to log on to the free version of H&R Block to file our taxes. We are able to file free as military members through the Military One Source website. The filing was free for Federal and State. We owe $91 to the federal government, which is better than the expected $400 I had in mind. And we are exempt from state income tax in our state of legal residence, since they do not tax Active Duty Pay. I have already schedule payment from our checking account to take place on March 1st. I could have waited longer obviously, but I just want to get it done!
I think for now I will keep our withholding allowances at 9. Dido made me aware that there will be a $500 credit per dependent over age 17 beginning in 2018, so that reduces the tax owed by $1000. I may actually increase it later in the year, but I will wait until we know what the actual college expenses we pay are. Right now it could be as much as a $2500 American Opportunity tax credit and maybe $400 Lifetime Learning Credit. As it stands now, we will have $3918 withheld for 2018, and likely actual tax would be $6900. So we are in the right place with withholding.
And I can see that our next paycheck is higher due to the new withholding tables. The amount is $45.70 more per pay period or $91.40 per month. We were already getting an additional $63.15 per pay period due to my husband's raise. So since December we have $217 more in our pockets each month. And more going to retirement because of the raise! Can't complain about that.
In other news, I sold three more items on eBay in the last week. Not big money, but it all adds up. It goes to the Big Goal...as should that extra income above.
I have calculated the new withholding amounts we expect to see on my husband's paychecks going forward after the new tax law was passed. I used https://www.paycheckcity.com/ to do the calculations. We currently withhold 9 exemptions every pay period. That means the withholding in the past for us has been $409 per month. The new amount based on the same withholding will be $319 per month. An $80 difference, or $960 a year.
Sounds great right? Well, if I'm understanding the new tax laws for no personal exemptions, but higher standard deduction for married couples, and lower tax brackets, we will definitely have lower taxes, but the withholding we are currently at will be deficient by $400, and maybe more if we cannot take the full American Opportunity Credit for college expenses in 2018. I don't mind owing, but I'm now working to decided if I want to change our withholding to 8, or even add more to retirement to offset income.
I will get it figured out. I know how to do it all, I just need more time to decide what we want to do. Sending more to retirement when we already invest 18% and expect a pension equal to half my husband's pay is starting to seem like overkill. Again, just decisions to be made. I also need to figure how much we may actually pay in college costs out of pocket this year.
Oh, and a note slightly related to figuring taxes. When you claim the American Opportunity Tax credit you can only do it for four years per child. So if you claim it their first semester of their freshman year, that is one tax year. Therefore, once you get to spring semester of their senior year, you are into a fifth tax year...which you cannot claim. In our case, I did claim it for our oldest daughter for that first semester. Although, we didn't use the full amount, but my guess is as tuition increases through the year and our educational savings options run out we would benefit more in that final semester. I think there is still the Lifetime Learning Credit that can be taken indefinitely and combined even if you have another student still eligible for the AOTC. (There are income limits, so don't assume you are eligible based on the information I provide here. Do your own research for your specific situation)
I also have to remember that I can adjust withholding later in the year as we have more information...such as the amount we have actually paid out of pocket for college expenses that could be claimed.
Hmm...another thought I may actually take the Lifetime Learning Credit for my youngest this year, since it will be for just one semester. Then finish up using the American Opportunity Credit for our oldest daughter for 2018. The following year we could swap these. I think that could work. That would lower our taxes even more. I sure would rather the money go to pay tuition, than to the government who is overspending as it is with our tax dollars.
Have you done the calculations for your 2018 taxes? Did you have to change withholding? Will your taxes be less?
I went to FreeTaxUSA to work on filing our taxes since the free option we have as military members is currently not working. Ugh. Our taxes are pretty simple at this point. We no longer itemize since we do not own a home. In fact the last couple years we owned a home, our interest rate was so low in addition to taxes, itemizing was less than the standard deduction. So we took the standard deduction.
I have not filed our taxes yet, not sure if it is even open to do so. (I checked. The IRS begins accepting returns on January 29 this year.) But the final result is that we owe $91. This is really my perfect scenario. To owe just a little. I can come up with $91 any day of the week, so no big deal to figure out where the money owed will come from.
With FreeTaxUSA, federal filing is free. They do charge $12.95 for state filing. However, I'm pretty sure you can get that cut in half using a coupon code. I know Swagbucks is offering 50% off, or 50SB per dollar paid. Ebates is offer 25% cash back it looks like. So for a net of $6.50 I think it may be worth it to just file with them rather than spending time re-entering all the data. Sometimes the money spent is worth the time saved.
Somehow this year, taxes were even more simple than usual. We benefit with lower taxes due to saving in my husband's TSP, which are pretax contributions. We also took advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit this year. We spent $7,565 on qualified tuition and expenses. This does not include housing. Of course, only $4,000 of that amount is eligible for the AOC, which provided us with $1,500 tax credit and a $1000 refundable credit.
Next step is to start figuring out our tax scenario for 2018, so I can get close to even like I did this year.
Have you figured your taxes yet? Are yours complicated or more simple?
I personally did no spending today. I stayed home and sewed a lanyard for my sister who is a kindergarten teacher. This is her birthday gift. I made it from what I already had on hand in my sewing stash. I will need to mail it to her but I expect that to be only a couple dollars.
My husband received a $10 gift card from AutoZone in the mail today. He purchased new headlights for his truck that had a $10 rebate, thus the gift card. He went to AutoZone to use it for new map lights, which he thinks now wasn't a need but a wiring issue that has come loose. He attempted to get me a battery for my truck key fob, but they didn't have it. Oh, actually he also said he may have stripped the screw that holds the key fob together so we may not even be able to get a battery in it. At least the key still works!
I have some tax documents coming in including my husband's W2. I planned to use whatever the software the military has available, however, the site we need to go through Military One Source is having issues. I'm not able to log in. It seems others are having similar issues. I hope it is corrected soon. I probably could go find another site to use to at least get an idea where we stand, pay or refund. I remember last year doing a projection and expect we may need to pay $400.
We earned $79.08 in interest during the month of January. I hope to see that bump up a little now that more ($15K) of our money is invested at 2%.
I withdrew $4,750 from our daughter's Educational Savings account. That money will be used to cover most of her housing costs for the semester. She has $4839 left in her account. This is in a interest bearing account, so she is earning a little money on it each month.
Since it is officially payday today, I can say that I initially allocated $814 towards tuition. But I also didn't fund all of our usual everyday spending categories in YNAB specifically clothing and entertainment. That means I have another $100 to add to the tuition pot, and finally I decided that the electric bill (that really big one of $315) can actually be paid on our next paycheck on February 15. With those funds, funds saved from last few paychecks, the money from the ESA, and our tax refund, I am now only short $205.31!!
But as I'm writing this I'm also realizing that the books I bought my daughter for school have been allocated to that tuition category in YNAB. They were charged to my American Express card which I currently have 0% interest offer on. Therefore, I don't need to pay that off this pay period. That gives us another $153. Now I'm only short $48!!
I did realize that with my husband's travel reimbursement we might make a little money. It depends on how much he spends on food over what the per diem is. I think he will submit his request for reimbursement on Friday, and it should get paid within a week, maybe in time to pay the tuition bill! This would be a little less out of our savings that we would need to pay back.
I'm feeling much better about this huge tuition bill! I think I can likely shave $48 off our spending with some careful planning over the next 10 days.
I took our younger daughter back to Walmart yesterday to get more school supplies. ANOTHER binder, a 3 subject notebook, and dividers were required. We also bought a 4 pack of AAA batteries and a package of glue sticks to donate to two teachers. That was another $22. Why are office supplies so expensive? The 3 subject notebook was $4.24! The teacher did say they could use three regular notebooks, but my daughter did prefer the combined version for the easy of carrying around. I'm not going to make her sacrifice for a couple dollars.
I think we are continuing our version of frugal through mid February. That is when tuition is due, so I want to keep the spending to a minimum. My husband and I discussed greatly reducing our alcohol intake primarily for health reasons, but that would be very good on our budget. I will let you know how that works out.
I just ate leftover mushroom barley soup for lunch today. I pulled that out from the freezer. It was probably two servings, but I ate them both! So yummy and really not very caloric. I think I may be having soup all week, as I have a can of soup in the pantry and another soup in the freezer (Moroccan Lentil).
I will need to grocery shop today. I need apples and crackers for my daughter's lunch tomorrow. I made a list of other items to cover the rest of the week. I will buy today, but count the purchase as a February expense.
I checked our bank accounts this morning. The tax refund and my husband's paycheck are both pending for deposit tomorrow! I plan to redeem shares from my daughter's Educational Savings account tomorrow to cover a portion of the tuition bill. At this point we appear to be about $600 short of what we need. As I have said all along, I will use our regular savings to cover the shortfall and pay ourselves back. No loans for her or us this semester is the plan, and I'm sticking to it!
Oh, I saw http://secretbluebutterfly.com/ on the SA forum this morning. It's under freebies, but it is more about spreading kindness and love. Check it out if you are interested!