Sunday, December 16, 2007

Serenity Tip: Estimate your taxes

I did something this weekend that I've never done before:

I asked my accountant to estimate how much, if any, taxes I should expect to pay in April.

I've been paying my quarterly taxes faithfully, but since my income went up this year, I'm unclear if I may need to pay more come April.

This estimate is especially important right now, in the waning days of FY 2007. There's office equipment I want to buy. I have fantasies of new software, hardware and some fun things, like that flat-screen cinema display I don't really need but would be awful sweet to look at every day. And then there's the health necessities: ergonomic desk and chair. In other words, I could spend all the money I have saved or taxes and still want more.

For me to do this office equipment spending sanely, I need to avoid using a credit card. I know--fiscal blasphemy! How ever will I survive?!--Well, I'll tell you: I haven't used a credit card for more than a year now and I haven't had any calamities that have required plastic. So as I consider stocking my office with all the newest and greatest, I know that serenity will come from doing so in a sane, manageable way that doesn't increase my debt burden next year.

That's where my accountant comes in:

I send him my estimated income for the year. (Which I have, happily, because I've been working hard this year on maintaining clarity about every penny that comes in.)

I sent him my estimated spending for the year. (Actually, except for the spending I have yet to do at the end of this month, it's more like actual because I use a little Walgreens notebook to record my spending daily, personal and professional.)

And now I wait to find out: Should I save more? Is there money for office equipment? And if so, how much is available?

This is very exciting for me. In the past, I would have spent blindly and hoped that money would appear to cover it. I'd be scrimping and saving next year for this year's taxes, and then worry about being able to pay my quarterlies. I'm hopping off that merry-go-round.

Not trying to guess not only keeps me current with our friends at the IRS, but keeps me much, much more serene.

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