(other considered titles: "The Sword of Damacles", "Gnawing my leg off...")
Friday, Dottie's day off as she worked the weekend, we had our annual appointment with one of H&R Block's associates. The wife of a former coworker, downsized out of her job when a national chain bought the local bank she had worked in for 20 years, she is very good at what she does and has helped steer us in a "better direction" several times through the years.
It wasn't a good day to begin with, as it would have been Dad's 82nd birthday and it's still very hard going into this 26th year without him not to be a bit resentful thinking of all that might have been.
Nonetheless, since we finally had the last of the paperwork Dottie really wanted to get this done. We expected about $1500 back from the Federal and were hoping to use it to pay what we knew we were going to owe the State...
We knew we were going to owe them because when I took the "buyout" from GM last year they took out the Federal taxes they were supposed to, but conveniently and despite my having asked them to, forgot to withhold the State taxes. I caught the error and figured out the proper amount, opening our first savings account in 30 years with it.
What I didn't know until Friday was that since the "buyout" was paid out of our Union retirement fund, the Fed treats it like an IRA and since I'm not 55 I was liable for a 10% penalty for "early withdrawal"! So not only was I not getting back the $1500, but owed another $3000 besides! To go along with that, the lines that transfer to the State return meant that instead of owing the $2400 I had figured, I owed them an extra $700 as well. My former co-worker's wife is now very worried about what they may have in store for him because he along with many others are considering taking the current buyout!
When my son moved last fall he had two households going at the same time and there was a "limbo" period between his last check from his old job and his first on a twice monthly pay period at his new one, plus moving and start-up expenses, etc.. I lent him most of what was in the savings account on condition that I needed it back by April 15th. We had hoped to pay the State with what we got back from the Federal and what was left in the savings account and take the pressure off him...
I had used that buyout money to pay off 4 credit accounts, one of which we kept for the unexpected. The unexpected plumbing bill last fall...most of Christmas...now the big "hit" for this Federal tax penalty as there was a discounted "transaction" fee for paying it through Block, or so they thought...right up until you click "send"!
I always knew I was going back to work, in fact I had tried to pick up a job late last summer though for some reason it "fell through". Dottie kept telling me to wait until after the holidays, etc., because so many other things pop up and each day something unexpected still seems to arise.
Now it seems it's time to begin a job search in earnest, in fact I filed an app on Saturday I haven't told her about yet for fear it will fall through like that last one did. After I start some laundry I'm going to read up on a couple more and perhaps file them. I'm trying to avoid her days off so we don't lose our time together, which may be overidden by the necessity to start bringing in "some green" sooner rather than later.
Things are still "tight" for my son and his wife, especially now that she has moved back to D.C. with him and enrolled in graduate school. They are hoping she picks up a job soon and things will ease for them. If it doesn't, that card will be maxed again soon.
The lady at Block sent me home to make phone calls before she filed that, hoping that between the people that handle our benefits, our Union and GM someone would have decided they needed to do something about this. Fidelity said they told GM there was a problem before it was ever done; the Union said that there were rumors that GM was going to do something about it and gave me a GM number to call; GM says they will issue information in March or April...
I'm not holding my breath!
We had already agreed, knowing that we needed to "tighten our belts" anyway, that we weren't doing anything for each other for Valentine's Day. Friday we splurged and bought a "cheap" tray of steaks ($10 for four) at Sam's and a small tray of mushrooms when we bought milk for the week. While she was at work on Saturday I dug out a heart-shaped baking pan I had bought years ago and made a tray of brownies for her.
We will get through this, somehow, though it never seems like it in the beginning.
Don't know why George and Paul are echoing in the back of my mind now...
"Let me tell you
How it will be.
There's one for you,
Nineteen for me,
'Cause I'm the taxman.
Yeah, I'm the taxman.
Should five percent
Appear too small,
Be thankful I don't
Take it all..."
May the week be kind to each of you!