There was a time in my life when tax time was exciting. I was making not very much money and spending most of it on schooling -- something the government deems pretty much untaxable. Therefore, tax time meant I had to transfer a few numbers from my W-2s to a 1040EZ and wait for the money to come rolling in.
When we were first got married, I had worked full time for more than half the year and our combined school time was more than 12 months, which meant 2005's return was great. We used it to go on a 9-day trip to California, visiting Disneyland, Fresno and San Diego (an In-N-Out and Golden Spoon about four times each). We used TurboTax and it was an exciting thing to itemize our deductions and watch the green-colored return numbers grow. State taxes added even more!
In, 2006, however, we had both worked more and gone to school none, which meant Mr. Government wanted to take more money from us. We got TurboTax again, excited because of what it did for us the year before, and started inputting our W-2s. The little this-is-what-your-return-is numbers on the left of the screen started out as red numbers, meaning this-is-what-you-owe instead of this-is-what-will-come-to-you-in-a-magical-check.
Red numbers were not exciting. As we itemized, again, the red numbers got smaller and smaller, but it wasn't until we did the state taxes that the number crept ever-so-slowly into the green. Our outlook went from "How much will we get?" to "I hope we get something!"
Our 2007 returns, completed last week, continued our unwanted affair with the red numbers. Even through itemizing, re-itemizing and frustrated snorting at TurboTax, we ended up with red numbers. The state came through with a little help, making our red numbers smaller than before, but still, for the first time ever, our taxes are going to be a net loss instead of a net gain. It makes me not so in love with TurboTax anymore.
There are, however, two happy endings to this little story. First, thanks to our government's thought that throwing money at a problem will fix it, we are supposed to get more than $1,000 from the economic stimulus package congress passed in January. (Granted, it is technically an advance on any tax refunds we can expect next year, but still, it is money now. Due soon, they say, in May.) The money is supposed to stimulate the economy by pumping money from consumers back into the system. We plan to save it, instead. An extra-large rainy day fund will be better than a new HDTV, at least that is what I keep telling myself! (That was a joke, parents!)
The second bit of good news is that we have an ace in the hole, or should I say "the womb," for a better tax break next year. That's right, Chicklet will start earning her keep when she arrives and lets us claim her on our deductions. Maybe she will be the silver bullet that brings back enough of a rebate to actually that HDTV. Probably not. Crystal will probably talk me into putting it into a minivan fund or something.
PS - 40 bonus points to anyone who can identify the inspiration for this post's title.
Also, as a bonus, I've added a picture of what our 2005 tax refund got us ... smiles in Disneyland!