2014 Tax deductions preparation

My chicken scratch as I calculate and prepare my taxes for 2014

I owe how much?!

I used to love filing taxes. There was a generous reward and refund each year. As my income sources changed, so did the tax benefits. Nowadays, with the “business” of Frugaling and various self-employment taxes that result, the tax refunds have ended.

Last year’s tax filing led to a nearly $1,000 payment to federal government. That was the first time I ever owed money. I was a significant budgetary hit.

This year is shaping up to be another rough payment. I believe our tax system is flawed, but I want to do my part — my fair share. But there are various ways to ease that burden. I’m already beginning to prepare and save.

Accounting for 2014 taxation

Self-employment taxes

Based on everything from 2013’s taxes, there will be a steep tax for my business income. My business income — from Frugaling.org — is considered self-employment, and is taxed as such. Essentially, it is paid tax free (medicare, medicaid, and social security taxes are not withheld initially) by companies and then I must report the income to the federal government. This year, I’ve estimated my total earnings to better save for the payment.

Tax deductions and credits

Along with business income preparation, I’m looking at current education expenses with a critical eye. Despite being a graduate student with an assistantship (aka, “job”), there are various student fees that aren’t covered.

With tuition and fee inflation/increases, this total will soon reach nearly $5,000 per year for my doctoral education. Thankfully, the federal government subtracts this value from my income — considered a tax deduction for the adjusted gross income (AGI).

Investment contributions

The last piece is where I’m spending increasing time: retirement accounts. I’ll be able to significantly reduce my tax burden this way.

Before this year, I had a near-dormant IRA that was underfunded forever. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the traditional IRA contribution benefits. I deposited $1,000 into a Roth IRA, which doesn’t benefit from the contribution.

The best thing I could’ve done would be to open a traditional IRA — seek a contribution deduction and retirement savings contributions credit. Now I know! Since then, I’ve deposited about $1,000 into a traditional IRA, which will will net me $1,000 in deductions to income, and an estimated $100 in contribution credits. That will seriously reduce my tax burden and get me saving faster.

Preparation pays off in the end

I spent the last 6 hours calculating how to reduce my tax liability (legally — come on people!). Based on my initial calculations, I’ll save about $2,000 on my final tax payment by contributing more to my traditional IRA, realizing all business deductions and expenses, and saving everything I can. That’s about $333 of savings per hour! Not too shabby.

It’s difficult to save money from the tax man. Preparation and prevention doesn’t necessarily feel as important as making more money, but without taking serious action, you won’t be saving much. There’s no sense working like a dog and not being able to take advantage of the tax code.