I just had my taxes done last week and it was a totally different experience than I’ve ever had. So I wanted to share it with all of you in case you are still looking for a tax preparer.
In the past, I’ve always had my parents’ accountant do my taxes. When I lived at home (when I was working in high school), my parents just brought him what I made and to be honest I have no idea if I ever owed anything. Those jobs were pretty part-time and if I did owe something, maybe my parents helped me out. Once I moved to LA, I got a tax preparation packet from the accountant in the beginning of each year. I’d fill it out, make a list of my deductions, and stick all of that plus my W2 and 1099 forms in an envelope and mailed it to my parents. They brought it in for me and everything was done. I’d get a letter in the mail a few weeks later either saying how much I owed or how much I’d get back.
It was fine, but I realized last year that I needed to be a much more active participant in my taxes. 2015 was the first year that all of my income was 1099. And while I did pay estimated taxes (although I’d learn not enough so I still had a penalty), I knew I’d owe more money. I was prepared to owe money and had been saving about 1/3 of every paycheck I got. But I was still worried that it wasn’t enough.
So many of my actor friends recommended going to Chuck Sloan and Associates for taxes, so I made an appointment there. They are cheapest if you go in January or February (although they are always pretty affordable), so I made my appointment for the last day of February. Even before my appointment, I became a fan of the office. I had to change my appointment time a couple of times due to conflicts that came up, and they never seemed annoyed or bothered by that. They just gave me a new time and seemed happy that I’d be coming in.
Since I work from home, I wasn’t sure what the rush hour situation would be like on the freeway (the office is in the valley). I gave myself a little over an hour to get there, but made it in 20 minutes! So I sat in my car and listened to podcasts while I waiting for my appointment time.
I was assigned Daphne as my tax preparer. And even though I know I was assigned to her randomly, I felt like it was fate that she was helping me. She totally got how nervous I was about everything and we chatted a bit about our mutual love of podcasts before getting down to business.
I had explained to Daphne that while I had saved money and paid estimated taxes that I was so worried that I would still owe more than I could afford. So instead of doing everything at once, she entered all of my income, unemployment information, and health insurance information to show me the absolute worst case scenario I could be in.
And even that was less than what I had saved!
I was so happy that I wouldn’t have to figure out where to get extra money to pay my taxes that I burst into tears. I was crying out of relief from the stress I had felt from the past year and from the joy knowing that the first time I tried to be more involved in my taxes that I did do something right.
Daphne was happy to explain all the deductions that she entered for me. I was terrified to put down a home office because I’ve heard that is often a red flag for the IRS. I do work my jobs from home, so it is totally reasonable for me to put down a home office on my taxes. It still makes me a bit nervous that I did that, but Daphne reassured me that when you work as a virtual employee (like I do), it’s expected to have a home office on your taxes.
After everything was entered, explained, and double checked; Daphne showed me my total tax bill. And it ended up being less than half of what I had set aside to pay my taxes! While I wish that I was getting a refund or owing even less than that, anything less than what I had saved is awesome! I don’t have to worry about borrowing money or figuring out a payment plan with the IRS. I just sent in my checks and it’s done.
I really cannot thank Daphne and the rest of the employees at Chuck Sloan and Associates enough. They worked together as a team to make sure that I was getting all the deductions that I deserved and that everything was perfect before it was sent it. They dealt with my craziness, my stress, and my tears without looking at me weird. And they made me excited to get my taxes done! I doubt most people could say that.
When Daphne was working with me on my taxes we went over a couple of ideas of how I could organize things better for 2016, and I’m working on implementing those now. It mainly has to do with organizing things by type and not by month since the IRS doesn’t care about when things were purchased or paid for, just what category all of that money goes into.
I know that I’ll be going back to Daphne next year for my taxes since she was the first financial type person I’ve worked with who didn’t look down on me for how little money I had, got the weird things I spend my money on for work, and totally got my organizational system. And having someone like that on my team is invaluable for me.