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My tax money at work

It has been seven weeks now since I stopped working for the man and started working for the woman. (That’s me!) My boss is pretty good, tough but fair, and she has cute hair, though she could dress up a bit more. Capris at the office? Really? I haven’t had to take money out of savings yet, but I haven’t paid my quarterly freelancer taxes either, so that might change. Last night I found a program called Outright which not only builds reports of my income and expenses, but also calculates my estimated taxes. Whee! It also integrates with FreshBooks, the program I use for invoicing, which makes it extra close to my bookkeeping heart. (Did you know “bookkeeping” is the only word in the English language to have three pairs of double letters in a row? I learned that from Encyclopedia Brown.)

I know many freelancers have accountants, and I think that is a wise decision. However, I’ve been paying my own self-employment taxes for years and haven’t been audited yet, so I prefer to do it on my own. My business is simple enough and I keep good enough records to handle it myself. I also like to look at all the numbers and know how much is coming in and how much is going out. I went a little spreadsheet-crazy last night and entered all my numbers into Outright to determine how much I have to send off to the IRS by September 15th. It’s a sad number, though I suppose I should be happy that it is so big because it means I’m doing ok.

I am not against paying taxes. I like driving on roads and having running water and living in a generally peaceful society policed by cops where I can go about my life without having to fight off roaming marauders or looters or mutant rhinoceros. I am willing to pay for that. I just wish I got to designate where my tax money went, just like I choose which funds to invest my money in my Roth IRA. I would put some of my taxes towards roads and hand some of it to the cops and firemen. I’d save a little bit to fund the arts and put a lot more towards education. A big chunk would go towards health insurance. Wars wouldn’t get any money, nor would corn subsidies. (Get your high fructose corn syrup elsewhere!)

I guess that’s not how it works though. I’ll write my check in a few weeks, but I wish I knew where it was really going.

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Erica • August 26, 2009 at 11:01 am

I want to agree with you, but there are too many variables. How many people would really choose to fund roads (“I don’t drive, who cares!” “Mail? I use e-mail or FedEx!” “I don’t have kids, who needs school?”) that we would pretty quickly fall to chaos. And then what if some jerks with more money than you REALLY want to fund war or drilling or something else I wish we spent less on?

I think for now, the best way we can determine where our tax dollars are going is an active interest in our candidates and local politics and voting!


Sarah Fowler • August 26, 2009 at 11:31 am

Wow, thanks for the Outright recommendation! I hadn’t heard of it but it looks awesome. I also do my own taxes (I even did my own incorporation paperwork) so anything that makes it simpler definitely wins. :-)


Alex • August 26, 2009 at 12:03 pm

So happy that you are doing well enough to pay those taxes… you go :)

Sending people to your worksite on a regular basis , they say you have almost a month backlog… Good for you !!

Soon you will be hiring people…


Quix • August 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I’ve always thought that too. Even if I had to pay the same amount of taxes, I’d not complain nearly as much if at least some I could specify what I want to fund. Even if it was like 10%.

Glad to hear that the freelancing gig is working out for you. I’ve dropped your name to a couple people looking for reasonably priced web stuff and will continue because I think your business model and website are both awesome!


Ellie • August 26, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Did you know “bookkeeping” is the only word in the English language to have three pairs of double letters in a row? I learned that from Encyclopedia Brown.

I remember that one! I was suspicious of the solution–wasn’t it possible that she just plain forgot the word “bookkeeper”? But it was hardly the most specious reasoning Encyclopedia Brown ever used.


Rahim • August 26, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Yeah if I had it my way, the money that goes into investing in war would go into a solution fund of some sort. Not to mention science and technologies. Oh and for the record, very few people ever pay taxes. The government TAKES taxes.


Kelsi • August 26, 2009 at 4:56 pm

@Ellie – Great minds thing alike. I was about to post the same thing! I liked the one where he knew the girl couldn’t have been in the bath for the last hour because she was filing her nails. What self-respecting ten year old boy knows about filing nails? Of course, I now know not to file my nails after a bath because of Encyclopedia Brown.


Teena Golden • August 26, 2009 at 6:34 pm

I’m right there with ya on taxes, sister! If you decide to go into politics I’ll support you!


Lucrecia • August 27, 2009 at 4:37 pm

I’m glad your free lance work is going so well.

I can’t even begin to imagine where our country would be if each person got to decide that their tax dollars only went to the places they deemed necessary. With no military we wouldn’t be a free nation for long.


Leigh Ann • August 27, 2009 at 10:17 pm

It’s so frustrating paying federal taxes, because no matter which party is in power, they’re all completely incompetent and inefficient and waste billions. Maybe I wouldn’t mind so much if I thought actual good was being done with it. As it is, it just seems a waste. I give to charities and church as it is, but just think how much more could be accomplished if I could give the money that goes to the government as well. And yes, I know we need roads, etc. but it does seem a shame to work hard for it and then have most of it wasted by bureaucracy and inefficiency, or just plain corruption. I think about that every quarter when it comes time to send it in.


Samantha in Oz • August 28, 2009 at 12:51 am

I guess Australian place names (like Woolloomooloo) don’t count.


SnowDog • August 29, 2009 at 5:11 am

Note: Federal Income Taxes have nothing to do with roads, water, or cops. Those are all provided with local taxes.


Thealogian • August 29, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Hallelujah! Its nice to hear another person who sees what the good work tax money can do! Jon Stewart the other day made a very similar statement, particularly as he want’s to see his tax money go toward making sure that everybody has access to quality healthcare.

The anti-tax rhetoric of the past thirty years always seemed to dismiss the value of government as our source of shared security and civilization…schools, roads, general infrastructure, water, etc. IMPORTANT.

As for select you own tax principals, I’m sure that conservatives would out-select food-stamp programs, medicaid/SCHIP, any family planning programs, science education in schools, etc. So, we have to go with what we’ve got (though you could pull a modern day Thoreau and refuse to pay based on war-expenditures, but I doubt you’d only have to spend a couple days in jail while your mommy pays your taxes on the back-end.) I get the desire, though, believe me.

I think that Katrina really woke some people up to the importance of a competent, well funded government. It was such a failure only all levels primarily as a result of people who are against “government’ who wanted to “starve the beast” well, not fixing the levies for year after year because of lack of funding, and then putting a total knob in charge of FEMA didn’t help the situation. Government has value, particularly when run by people who believe in the capacity of government to enact the wishes of the people who elected it to do good in this world.



Marie • August 31, 2009 at 12:38 am

I think the soldiers deserve your consideration. If they did not fight the wars, it is unlikely we’d be enjoying the roads or the water as well as we are now.


JoWriter • September 2, 2009 at 12:47 am

It’s true roads are not paid for by direct federal taxation of income. The gasoline tax – levied by both the federal and state governments and sometimes by cities and counties, too, is what pays to build and maintain roads. Well, maintain, anyway. Have you noticed not many roads are being built?

Those people who worry that their favorite government program wouldn’t be funded if we could say what out tax money would fund, are forgetting how many people support that/those program(s). Some people want our country to be defended. Some people want to help the poor. I’m not sure whether anybody wanted to bail out the banks and auto industry besides the employees of those places, but there you go, that’s why the govt takes it.

I’m a freelancer, too. Isn’t it fun? I love my boss as much as you apparently love yours. *grin*


Tiffany S. • September 5, 2009 at 1:57 am

As if you weren’t awesome enough, you go and play the Encyclopedia Brown card! Thank you for making me not feel ancient! (I’m sure if I mentioned EB at work, the girls would just look at me like “Oh that crazy Tiffany – always bringing up things from the 70’s before we were even born.”)

I don’t care when you were born, if you can reference EB you’re alright with me!


Mar • September 7, 2009 at 11:19 pm

I wonder if there are a lot of mutant rhinoceros running amok in states where there is no income tax?


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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