One post-holiday task I actually look forward to is computing our taxes for the prior year. I load TurboTax on my computer, and gather all the required forms and paperwork. There's always one or two income statements that do not arrive until the very last minute of January, which is annoying. As senior citizens, our taxes are pretty simple, with a few sources of income and no dependents or child care expenses to consider. Texas has no state tax--yay!. It's kind of fun to step through all the sections of the program, answering the questions (some of which are pretty arcane) and plugging in all the numbers needed.
In December, I went through bank and credit card statements for 2017 to note down health care expenses, which were many this year because of my surgery and physical therapy. Of course, TurboTax makes you divide these into sections for prescription drugs, payments to doctors, dentists and physical therapists and hospital fees, x-rays, and lab work, which makes it more complicated than it should be, but resulted in a sizeable deduction.
Mortgage interest, property taxes and charitable contributions all get entered in their respective fields. Property taxes in Texas are pretty weird. You pay a school tax, Dallas county tax, a hospital tax for Parkland Hospital (the public hospital of Dallas), a city of Rowlett tax, and some other small amounts I don't quite understand. Fortunately, the mortgage company takes care of all of that. Sometimes you even get a check for escrow overage, which is always welcome.
The software keeps track of your refund in a little window at the top of the screen. The Holy Grail is getting the biggest refund possible, so with each new entry you watch in eager anticipation to see if that little green number goes up or down. Will Andy and I be jetting off to some island with our refund? I highly doubt it, but maybe we can pay off a few bills and wait for next year's windfall. Of course, 2018 could be a whole new ball game with the passage of the tax bill. Are we having fun yet?
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I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.