That one time I almost lost a lot of money

Thursday, February 02, 2012

I had a heart attack and died on Tuesday. But it's okay, I'm totally fine now. I've since been revived and given new life and a second chance.

Tuesday I received the final tax form I had been waiting for in order for Clay and I to complete our taxes. I was already pretty nervous about getting said form because it was the 1099 MISC form from the freelance colorist work I did last year (back when I got to stay at home all day and stay in my pajamas. *sigh* I had it so good.), and I wasn't sure if I did the whole "estimated tax payments" thing right. Last January when I inquired HR Block about the estimated taxes process, they couldn't help me. In fact, the tax specialist's exact words to me were, "I don't know how to do that." Really? If you're a tax professional who doesn't know anything about taxes, I'm sorry honey, but you're clearly in the wrong professional. So she "guessed" at how I should go about making the payments and I blindly believed what she said because she was wearing a name tag and standing next to a green sign that said "HR Block" (ever the trusting one, I am.).

But I digress ...

I finally entered my 1099 MISC form into my Turbo Tax account and immediately felt my heart drop into my butt as I watched the huge amount of money the government owed us plummet from happy green digits down to the ugliest red numbers I'd ever seen in my life.

I know my English isn't always that great, but I'm pretty sure that Turbo Tax was telling me that Clay and I owed the government an amount of money with far too many zeros tacked onto the end of it.

And, continuing with my proven track-record of handling life's problems with the dignity and grace of Mother Teresa, I flippin' lost my mind. I excused myself from my cubicle, marched to the front door of our office building, and shakily dialed my hubby's work number into my cell phone.

"Hi," I said, breathlessly. "I know you can't take personal calls at work, but I didn't trust myself to type this out in an email without a heavy peppering of the f' word. Now, I'm not sure how to tell you this, but we owe the government a lot of money."

A bit fat crocodile tear ran down my face as I listened to Clay's silence.

Needless to say, the rest of our respective days were not so great.

I spent a few minutes of my afternoon instant messaging a Turbo Tax customer service rep who was incredibly kind and gave me a lot of positive insight to why we ended up owing money. Sure, I had paid enough in estimated taxes, but because I was "self-employed" and had my own business, I had a self-employment tax and had to pay medicaid/medicare tax. Crappy news, yes, but I was happy to at least have an answer as to what happened. 

After Salsa class (which we didn't want to go to. I was so preoccupied with our financial distress that there was no way I could pay attention to what my feet were doing), Clay and I came up with a way to pay back the government. We had the money to pay it, but we would have to pinch pennies for awhile until we could recoup the cost. Again, we kept reminding ourselves that by the grace of God we had the funds to pay the government in full and that's what was most important. We would be fine. We would just be less comfortable for awhile.

I had been dramatic when I recanted what happened to my sister and made declarations that Clay and I were headed to the poor house, but my sister brought me back to reality very quickly:

"Not to downplay what you're going through, but you've said that you and Clay were 'broke' before, but you always have money tucked away."

I was ready to go on the defensive a bit with my response, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was totally right. I was over-reacting. In my head, savings account exist for emergencies. I never even considered it spending money. So whenever we would have to take a huge chunk of money from it (I'm looking at you, my G6), I immediately start spazzing out that our stability is disappearing and it begins triggering these horrible "what if?" scenarios that ultimately end with me begging for change on the street corner in a ratty coat. But the point is, it's savings. It's there for a reason. We used it ... for its intended purpose. Get over it, Courtney.

That night I made peace with our fate and even managed to laugh myself silly when Clayton started making fun of the cramp I got in my toe from looking at my tattoo. I even went to work the next morning feeling pretty okay. If anything, this whole situation was just a gentle reminder from God that I need to end my fixation on our finances and keep my frivolous spending in check.

So I began my work day as usual, answering emails and pitching my authors' books.

Then my friend in accounting, bless her sweet, sweet heart, sent me an email asking me if I had already submitted my taxes. At that point I had notI was waiting until I could go to HR Block this weekend and give them a piece of my mind politely ask for their "Second Glance" service to be sure we didn't miss anything.

"Great!" my friend replied. "It looks like there was a mistake on your 1099 form. The amount of income you received was put in the wrong box."

I quickly got the correct information from her and almost flung my keyboard off of my desk as I fumbled to log into TurboTax.com and fix the error. I typed the income amount into its proper box and watched in stunned amazement as the once furiously red numbers of how much money we owed skyrocketed back up and changed green again. I sat at my desk paralyzed for a moment.

What just happened?

Did God really just answer a prayer that I didn't even consider praying?

I felt like that silly kid from YouTube that was videotaped by his father after getting laughing at the dentist: "IS THIS REAL LIFE!?"


Then, since I had now entered my income into its proper box, Turbo Tax started asking me a series of questions about the income which ultimately led me to discover that I didn't "have my own business". This was simply extra income I did as an independent contractor. There was no tax.

The government actually owed us now.

Clayton thought he being punk'd when I called to share the good news.

My office BFF high-fived me and did her "happy dance".

I almost wet myself in relief.

And then I thanked God ... repeatedly.

God, if You're listening (or reading, which would be really weird. But if you are reading, are you using a PC or a Mac?) ... thank You.

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2 comments

  1. YOU'RE WELCOME, COURTNEY. I'M USING A MAC

    ReplyDelete
  2. Of course God uses a Mac. Like that's even a question.

    ReplyDelete

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