Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Closing the Loop on Taxes and the Illinois Use Tax

So, let's just close the loop on taxes.  Particularly, my taxes.  Don't you hate it when you follow a news story and then it gets dropped so there is no resolution?  Like Nicky Diaz Santillian.  I wonder what happened to her and Meg Whitman and Gloria Allred, and is she going to get deported?  No idea, because no one reported on it much after the big press conference and election was over.  I can't find anything about this online.

Anyway, I finished my taxes.  I actually did them myself this year, because even though I make a lot of money, my taxes are not complicated at all.  I don't own a business, I don't own multiple homes, I don't have a ton of personal deductions or business deductions, so, it's cheaper and easier for me to just gather the documents, enter the numbers into the software, and do it on my own.

At the end of the day, I paid...drumroll...$195,046 to the Feds and $20,161 to Illinois, for a grand total of $215,207.  This means I am getting a refund -- thanks mostly in part to my mortgage interest and property tax deductions.  If I didn't have those, I would've had to pay a lot more, because, due to my income and single childless status, I don't qualify for many other deductions.  Seriously, I don't.  I've got 529 account deductions for my nieces and nephews and charitable deductions and things like that, but a lot of the good deductions go away when you make too much money.

Illinois has also started to get serious about the "use tax."  It's now a line on the Illinois tax return that has to be filled in with something.  This means if you buy anything out of state or country or online and don't pay Illinois sales tax and use that item in the state of Illinois, you must either (a) pay Illinois sales tax on it; or (b) make up the difference if the sales tax you paid in the other state (like if you were on vacation or something) if it is less than the sales tax to Illinois.  Apparently this is something we've been supposed to do for years, but no one ever knew about it, so no one did it.  And now they want to ex post facto us all into it. 

No one keeps track of this crap.  I mean, seriously.  There's been a lot of talk about it at my firm.  Am I supposed to go back through all of my Internet and out of state purchases over the past seven years to figure this out?  I buy a ton of stuff from Amazon, eBay, random Internet sites, while on vacation, while visiting my mom in Michigan, etc.  That could take hours, or even days.  Hell, I don't remember what I bought three months ago much less six years ago.  I don't have that kind of time.  So what they offer instead is that you can pay 0.06% of your AGI.  I did that for 2010 because I was lazy and it came to around $400.  Fine, whatever.  It's on my tax return, and I did it to comply.  But the kicker is, they want you to do this for 2004 to the present and file it prior to October 2011.  (They are granting "amnesty" if you do this.  What that means, I have no idea.  You can still be penalized if you screw it up.  And you have to file it by mail for each of the six years.  Way to make it easy for people.)  Obviously Illinois is pushing this now because the state is completely broke.  I do not want to pay 0.06% of my AGI for 2004-2009 for this, because I think it will amount to much less.  But how do I figure it out without wasting hours and days of time?  It's a conundrum and it's bullshit.

So that's that for taxes this year...we'll see how next year pans out now that Illinois income tax has been raised.  Thanks Governor Quinn!     

1 comment:

  1. omg that "use tax" is INSANE! I don't think online sites like Amazon would even keep records that long. The only thing you could do is look at your own bank statements (if you have the paper copies) and try to figure it out. What a catastrophe! I would bullshit as much as you could for each year, keep some copies on file for a future audit and call it a day.

    Virginia has a business supply tax - they want to tax my dad AGAIN on every tooland piece of equipment (office stuff included) he buys for his business each year, when he already paid sales tax! Plus, you continue to pay a lower rate of taxes on those same items year after year, unless you buy a new one. So goddamn redundant!