Archive for the 'economix' Category

Fill ‘er Up

Fuel Stop

As we departed this morning from last night’s campground, we stopped at a nearby fuel station to fill the tank. When we were done, we took on 56 gallons of diesel which cost a nice round $200. The price of diesel back home is seventy cents less than we paid today. Welcome to Taxifornia.

At that price, the cost per mile of travel was $0.38 as compared to an average of $0.26 we got during our eclipse excursion in August and September. We got 9.5 miles per gallon on this last tank of fuel.

Since I don’t seem to be able to talk family and friends to move out of the maxtax state, I will just have to put up with the extra expense to see them from time to time. In the long run, it is worth it to us to be with our folks.

It’s Time to Deal with the IRS Again

tax.jpgNow that the supporting documentation is here, it is time to proceed with the preparation and submission of the 2016 tax return. We did a quick estimate in January and found that we’re not getting very much back, if any at all, from the IRS. We probably owe some to Arizona as well, so we may not file the state return until April.

We usually try and withhold at a rate which causes us to either pay a small amount or to get a small amount back. Last year, however, there were some changes in our “big tax picture” which should have caused a larger refund, but due to lower than expected medical/dental treatments, we didn’t quite make the cut for deducting medical expenses. Bummer on one hand but good on the other that we were healthier last year.

So, today we start the official preparation of the returns. With the tax program we use, it should expedite the process and get to the finish line soon.

BREXIT

brexit.jpg

Well, the international political bullshit has come home to roost, thanks to the United Kingdom (Great Britain) having voted to secede form the EU. The impact to us was substantial, but not devastating. Our investments are weighted away from high risk and we still appear to be in pretty good shape, considering. As we continue to invest, we will be getting bargains at the now discounted rates.

Some pundits in the UK think that the Obamination may have tweaked the British electorate the wrong way by having gone to London last month (at taxpayer expense, of course) and insisted that they vote to stay in the EU - or else. I guess they don’t like some moron from the new world telling them what to do, so a backlash happened.

Our government isn’t the solution to anything - it’s the problem! And I mean a problem in the bipartisan sense. :evil:

UPDATE: 26 JUN 16 - I found this interesting graphic relating to the effectiveness of the Obamination’s power of persuasion over the British electorate:

brexitobama.jpg

Throwback Gas Prices

Gas Gouge

According to the archives of digital imagery, I took this photo of the gas price signage in Torrance, CA (Carson at Crenshaw, to be exact) on June 20, 2008. Eight years ago this month, I was still working and commuting to and fro and paying in this price range for fuel. Damn! I miss neither high gas prices, driving to work nor Kalifornistan.

In Arizona, the prices have just gone above two dollars per gallon for the summer season and are still climbing, but hopefully, never to reach the magnitude depicted above. But, I’m sure the Democrats are busily figuring out how to boost the prices by cutting production.

We save up our gas points from grocery shopping and can get up to a dollar off for the first 25 gallons, so we do that and save when at the pump. We drive little enough that when it’s time to fill up, we get a dollar off per gallon most of the time.

2015 Taxes Done

evil.pngI mean completely done. Shortly after I wrote about filing taxes last month, I filed the Federal Tax electronically and mailed in the AZ state return by snail mail. In reverse order of what might seem intuitively obvious, the Arizona refund has been in the bank for a week, and the Feds deposit finally got there today. Whatever.

I looked very closely at our 2016 income and deduction status and determined a suitable rate for both Federal and State withholding. I adjusted the rates for each of the several income sources to the projected amounts for each month. I’m pretty comfortable with the adjustments, although there might be a ‘wild card’ donation this year that would reduce our anticipated effective tax rate for the year. The Better Half and I are still kicking the idea of liquidating some property in favor of a tax write-off. For the time being, however, I think we are good with the new withholding rates and our anticipated normal Schedule A deductions.

The good news is that we won’t have to deal with the tedium and antipathy of screwing around with tax for another bunch of months.

2015 Tax Preparation Season

taxes.jpgI spent a little time yesterday and today putting numbers in the TurboTax® program for the 2015 tax year. With the first cut numbers in the program, it appears that we are on track to receive small amounts in refunds from both the Feds and Arizona.

By the way, that is NOT me in the image. It is some poor bastard who can’t get it together when it comes to tax season. Don’t be like that poor bastard.

Things have changed for us since the last tax year due to no longer having mortgage interest to deduct and a few other minor items. Realizing our tax situation would be quite different in 2015, we donated some of the money that would have been used to make mortgage payments to some of our favorite charities. We select charities that we know will piss off the IRS and the .gov in general because they support private Christian education, anti-global-warming research, veterans support, second amendment foundation, etc. We love getting deductions from the tax bill while rankling progressives at the same time.

Speaking of the .gov, I still have not received my SSA 1099 form from Social Security. Everything else is here, either by electronic or USPS means, but not the SSA. I know the exact amounts for payments and withholding, but it would make me feel more secure to have the paperwork to support the figures.

I will likely have the Fed filed by early next week and the state as well, although the former will be efiled and the latter by USPS because the $20 efile fee is a significant percentage of the refund amount. There is no fee for the Fed efile.

Upgrading the Money Software

bucks.pngWe generally stick to the old adage of If It ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It when it comes to all things software. Consequently, I have had a functioning copy of Quicken Deluxe 2002 installed on the laptop and predecessor computers since 2002. For the past couple of weeks, the old program has acted flaky in some areas, like one of the software modules got corrupted; it still had most of its main functions and was usable, but some of the convenient features and shortcuts were non-existent.

We decided to go with the latest Intuit Windows package to upgrade the software, Quicken Deluxe 2015. I ordered it from an Amazon Marketplace associate for 25% off the list price.

I was a little concerned about upgrading and having the ability to import my current data files. Prior to ordering the software, I researched what it would take to convert from Q2002 to Q2015. The data from the old software, it turns out, can not be directly imported into the new; an intermediate step is required since the method of data storage had changed a couple of versions after my 2002 package.

I had the new software last week, but I wanted to wait until the end of the month so I could reconcile the accounts and back them up just in case. I did that this morning and proceeded with the procedure, which was, 1) Upgrade to Quicken 2004 (free download from Intuit) and 2) import the intermediate data into the new Q2015 package.

After the upgrade, I was pleasantly surprised to see that everything (as far as I can tell) had imported correctly. I started getting used to the new user interface and was able to start customizing the presentation of data.

There was one glitch upon installation of Q2015; the installer wizard reported that it could not upgrade the installed software to Release 8, the latest version. I went online and found that Quicken made some “patches” available for the upgrade, so I downloaded the Release 8 patch and attempted to install it. The installer wizard, again, informed me that the upgrade was unsuccessful.

I went back on-line and found that there was a “MONDO” patch available which would reinstall everything plus the Release 8 upgrade. I downloaded it, launched the installer which took quite a long time (>10 minutes), but ultimately reported the successful upgrade.

The new package has a lot of features that I prefer not to use: cloud storage, synchronizing with my banks directly and subscriptions of various investment strategies and utilities. I am satisfied by manually updating my accounts in Quicken the way I have been doing it for years and connecting to the banks and investment accounts to maintain those as required.

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