Monday, February 16, 2009

Death and taxes...

(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 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!



beckyboop said...

My Dad worked for General Motors. He retired years ago. He is 81.

Anyway, I'm still in the process of gathering all the crap I need to file my taxes. When I got laid off from AT&T, I got a severance as well. I took it in weekly payments to avoid the penalty. It's all gone. Times are frickin tough!

Still looking for a job. Tomorrow there is a job fair at DeVry College on Holmes from 1-5pm. I may as well go to the Harley Dealerships to see if they need help too. Good luck with your search. I hope the week be kind to you as well.

Calamity Jen said...

It's rough times indeed, except, of course, for the taxman.

I wish you much luck. If karma exists, you'll be far more than just fine.

Anji said...

I recently heard how complicated your tax system is. Good luck with any job interviews you may get, I’ve been to a few of those myself.

It's the Social Security system here which is driving me nuts at the moment!

You mentioned Joseph Lucas somewhere else. My Grandfather was a toolmaker for them for 40 years. Shortly after he received his clock for 40 years service, he had a stroke and couldn’t work again. Rather than just dropping him, they were going through some cut backs, they made him redundant. Which meant he got a nice lump sum that helped him and his wife at a difficult time.

robin andrea said...

So sorry to read about your tax woes. Wouldn't it be great if you could declare yourself a bank, get the federal government to pay you more for your toxic assets than they are worth, and then give yourself a hefty bonus for a job well done? It really bugs me that hardworking people have to scrimp and scramble to make ends meet, while those who made this miserable mess we're in manage to stay rich. It just ain't fair.

Sassy said...

I hate taxes.

LucyTolliday said...

Sorry to hear about your problem, i hope something can be sorted.

Dr. Deb said...

EVery year, around this time, I hear Harrison's words.

CrackerLilo said...

Given all the crap that's been going on with GM lately, I've been concerned for you and Dottie. I've told you this before, but you really make those headlines real to me. (Of course, now my cousin and L'Ailee's are in Detroit, and they worry about the economy hitting them, too.)

It's sad but oddly comforting to read about someone else getting all twingey over 20 years after their father's death. I've been without my daddy way longer than I was with him, but I still get depressed every early October like clockwork, and then am like, "Oh, *yeah*..." I'm sorry you had that hit you on top of your other problems.

My toes are monkey-prehensile, and they are crossed for you during your job search so I can type!!!!

May the week be kind to you!!!

zilla said...

Ditto Robin Andrea.

And another song comes to mind:

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let's drink to the uncounted heads
Let's think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead

Debbie K said...

Dear Alan
I hope there are good times ahead for you really soon.
Your kind heart knows no bounds & reaches out, shining brightly to so many.
I wish you all the luck in the world. Money is not everything but it sure helps pay the bills.
Take care.

Green tea said...

My Hubba was a tax accountant for the first half of our marriage in a 2 man office..
Thanks god he is no longer doing that, now he is a controller for a manufacturing company.
He is well past retirement age but loves his job.
He still does some tax returns for friends and families.
He can't seem to say no to them.
But one thought to everyone right now.
Cut all those credit cards up into little pieces, unless you can pay the balance at the end of every month.
Those companies are going to be the death of all of us.

Good luck finding a job Alan.

ryssee said...

Ugh, sorry to hear about the tax troubles-it's the last thing anybody needs in these times.
I can't believe that GM could pay out the buyout directly without giving you all that info and without giving you the option to roll over to an IRA! Sounds like a lawsuit in the making. You did everything right and still got screwed. Jeepers.

von Krankipantzen said...

I am crossing all my fingers and toes that the perfect job comes along. One that feeds your bank account as well as your spirit. Hang in there!