Home > Withholdings & Taxes & Planning, Oh My! :)

Withholdings & Taxes & Planning, Oh My! :)

January 25th, 2021 at 05:21 pm

Since the last time I posted about it, I ended up deciding to increase my withholdings from my twice monthly check.  I had been referring to it as "single zero" and "single one" but it appears that in 2020, the W-4 changed and is now completely different and confusing lol.  After a lot of googling and researching, I was able to figure out how to update my online W-4 in such a way that I would get a very small refund next year, and increase my take home pay every check.  Hoping I did it correctly, I guess I'll find out Friday haha.  I did also model what lowering my 401k contribution would look like....knowing that I didn't want to take that step.  It turns out that my take home pay would go down, since I'd be increasing my taxable income.  So less take home and less being contributed?  No thanks.  Not helpful at all.  I'm estimating that the change in my withholding should net another $100-$150 a check.  Between that, and the extension on student loan forbearance, hoping that that closes the budget gap a bit.  Still more work to do but baby steps.

I also stopped procrastinating on resolving some tax issues I had with my 2019 state return.  I purchased my home in Sept of 2019, and moved out of NYC (which has an income tax) to a suburb that does not have one.  I reflected this incorrectly in my state return (no impact on federal), and instead of getting a refund like I thought, the state came back to tell me that I owed them money.  Yuck.  Once I saw their notice, I understood what I had done to screw it up, but I also realized that they had screwed it up too....I didn't have the patience to work it out at that time, so I just paid the money they said I owed, so I didn't get any penalties, and knew I'd eventually fix it, and hopefully get some of that back.  I figured now was as good a time as any, so I spoke with someone in my state tax department on Friday, they walked me through what I needed to do, and if my new math is correct, I should be getting about $400 back from the state for 2019.  I do need to amend my 2019 state return, so I think I am going to file 2020 taxes, and then file the amendment, since I have 3 years to do it.  My assumption is that the amendment will take longer to process than the current year taxes, so I don't want to hold up 2020's waiting for the 2019 amended to work it's way through.  That also gives me time to find a tax preparer to possibly just handle the amendment for me for a reasonable price.  If someone wants to charge me more than $100 for it, it's not worth it to me.  I'll just go through it again on my own.  For 2020, I have most of the documents I need to prepare them.  I do my taxes on my own and this is (usually lol) a simple affair.  Although I am a homeowner, I own a co-op (similar to a condo), and so the portion of my ownership expenses that I can deduct are not huge (my personal mortgage interest + my portion of building mortgage interest + my portion of property taxes).  The standard deduction is still far more beneficial to me.  Since this is my first full year owning, I will wait until the documents from the building's accountants come through, but am assuming this will be the case.  I'm roughly estimating a $1400 refund from federal and owing a small amount (less than $100) to state.  I can live with these.  

Tracking of spending continues.  75% of the way through the month, and I'm a bit dismayed by my total spending amount so far - I've spent about $525 on non-bills.  Of that, $135 is a yearly cost paid in a lump sum, $90 is periodic but not monthly costs, and $70 are one-off amounts.  The remaining $230 is food, with 96% of that being groceries.  If I weren't being as granular as I am with tracking the spending, I would freak out.  I'm not thrilled as that seems like a lot, but hopefully when I have the picture of a few months and can see an actual trend, not a standalone data point, it looks a bit better.  But for now, the grocery spending seems ok to me.  A touch high but I did replace some protein powder this month which is always spendy.  

Once I have a few months of this data, I'll use to start incorporating these amounts into my budget - to fund spending categories, ala the envelope method without actually using cash.  My primary bank doesn't offer sub accounts that I can easily set up this way, so I think I'm going to do a bit of research to see if another bank nearby offers this.  If not, I'll just keep it all in one bucket (my main checking) and track the breakout manually.  

Other than that, nothing big to report.  Just waiting for the next payday to make some more progress!  Still going strong on no unnecessary spending.  



2 Responses to “Withholdings & Taxes & Planning, Oh My! :)”

  1. disneysteve Says:

    " I did also model what lowering my 401k contribution would look like....knowing that I didn't want to take that step. It turns out that my take home pay would go down, since I'd be increasing my taxable income."

    I'm not an accountant, but I'm not sure that's possible.

    Let's say you put $100 into the 401k and you stop doing that. That $100 will now be paid to you and some portion of it will go to taxes, but you'll get the rest. Even if you're in the highest tax bracket, $37 of the $100 would go to taxes but the remaining $63 would be additional take home pay.

    Maybe an accounting person can weigh in but I can't think of any way you could put less in your 401k and see your take home pay go down.

  2. disneysteve Says:

    That makes sense for sure. If you can make ends meet without reducing retirement funding, you’ll be better off down the line.

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