Doing My Taxes Does Me In
Finally! Here I am back from the dead! It’s been about 10 days since I last blogged, and for me that’s an eternity. So where have I been? Mainly just batting back the curveballs of everyday life—all of which I can’t wait to share with you very soon. But for now the key reason I’ve been MIA is because I’m refinancing my house AND filling out my son’s college FAFSA (the the free application for federal student aid which determines how much college financial assistance your kid can get). Which means I had to do my 2011 taxes, an exercise that ranks right up there with extracting abscessed teeth or having the shards of a Hummel figurine surgically removed from my left butt cheek after being shoved into a curio cabinet at a Frankie Goes to Hollywood house concert. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.)
Back in the old days when I had money, before I lost it all in the ’08 stock market crash (yet another story for another time), I used to employ expensive guys in cheap suits to do my taxes. This may seem like overkill, except that I had (and still have, just by the skin of my teeth) a production company that actually made enough money to employ people, including myself. In addition to being a stand-up comic I produced movies, commercials, indie films, shorts, features, industrial videos, just about everything that could be captured on film for profit EXCEPT for porn. Even I have my limits. (On a day when you really have nothing to do you can go check out my film credits on the Internet Movie Database, where you’ll see a cute picture of me in a short bob.)
To Save Money I Had a Monkey Do My Taxes
My company is an S-corp so I really did need help with my taxes when it came to balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and federal forms with alphabet soup handles like 1120s and K-1 (which I always thought was a personal lubricant, until someone informed me that it’s actually K-Y—right after I inappropriately made a joke about it at a fundraiser for the Utah Democratic Party).
So when the crash imploded my financial world, the entertainment and advertising industries took the first hit. My company tanked, I had to let everyone go, and suddenly I was in the business of being a one-woman show. One of the many hats I had to learn to wear was that of personal accountant who did my own taxes. Today the IRS thinks I’m funny NOT because they’ve seen my stand-up or read my books, but because they laugh uproariously every time they receive one of my quarterly 941 forms. Even with Quickbooks I’ve yet to fill out a 941 the same way twice, that’s how mercurial my income is these days.
So to get the monthly nut down I decided to refinance my house, which I haven’t done since Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac resolved to actually vet people before handing out loans. Just my luck they get serious about such things AFTER Wall Street took all my money.
Now this refi has me doing my corporate and personal taxes, both of which are so complicated that you have to be a rocket scientist to even get past line 10. And in my case I used to be a rocket scientist (yet another story for another time) and I STILL can’t really tell the difference between a tax credit and a deduction.
Good Taxes Gone Bad
For example, can somebody please tell me why Bernie Madoff can deduct all his legal fees, yet I can’t deduct the mounds of clothes I have to buy my kids per year because they outgrow everything faster than a weed emerging from a cement crack in a Walmart parking lot? Seriously? I have to be a dishonest billionaire before I can enjoy the benefits of all our magnificent tax loopholes?
And who was the genius that decided you get a tax break on medical expenses ONLY if said expenses for the year reaches into the thousands of dollars? Next time my son gets strep throat I’m going to tell him we’ll just have to wait until it turns into rheumatic fever before we can go to the doctor. Otherwise, according to the IRS his treatment is not as legitimate as that of the trophy wife who got a $10K boob job/tummy tuck just in time for her husband’s annual trip to the Caymans to do a load of laundry.
As you can see accounting and taxes are not my passions. However, saving money is. So I’ve been spending every free moment for the last 10 days doing my own taxes and gathering ridiculous information for my mortgage broker so she can convince a lender that I’m not a risk if we lower my house payment…on a house I’ve lived in for the past 17 years, during which I’ve never ONCE missed or made a late payment.
The good news is I did FINALLY file my taxes (usually I wait until October 15th), my mortgage broker has everything she needs to convince some bank minion with a Darth Vadar complex that I’m not as much of a deadbeat as I appear, and after filling out my son’s college financial aid forms, it turns out I’m officially destitute, and thus my son is eligible for tuition assistance.
Damn, it’s been quite a week since we last chatted.
But now maybe life can get back to normal around here—whatever the hell normal is.
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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.
For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.