Episode-7- How to Do Taxes and Returns and Save Money

crude rain barrel
How to set up a rain barrel

As you may or not have guessed by the pictures in the show notes or from experience a rainwater tank, rain barrel, rain catcher, whatever..is simply that. A large barrel designed to catch and hold the rain water runoff from your roof. Why would you want to do this you may asking yourself. Well I know it’s now April and it’s hard to imagine what a long hot dry summer may portend but it’s coming and having a little extra water around for my gardens is always a plus. Moreover, it’s free water. In Virginia I am able to go ahead catch rain water and use it as I see fit. At least for now that is. Eventually I would like to put some rain catchment device in place that will be used to flush my toilets. Currently I pay about $40 a month for water use, sewage use and service charges. So anything extra I can save by using that which nature provides us helps to keep the bottom line in line. As the future progresses water only becomes more expensive. So this practice that I have undertaken of rain water catchment and storage is something that I will have to build on over time. The Indians saved water and what was wrong with that. These used to be regular features of rural homes in particular and in many places around the world they still are widely used for everyday water consumption.

Why I do this is part of the theme I outline in episodes 1 and 2. The more dependent we become on complex systems the more we are forced to pay the piper for the going price. According to my latest water bill we used 8,300 gallons of water during the past month. If I have a roof that covers approximately 1,000 square feet then 1 inch of rain would yield 623 gallons of water. Potentially with the right type of system based on average rain fall for my area I could provide about 26% of water through rain alone. However, to get such a system requires simple steps first. Thus my experimentation with rain water capture over the last three years is a work in progress.

Another reason to start experimenting with this is because in the State of Colorado, installation of rainwater collection barrels is subject to the Constitution of the State of Colorado, state statutes and case law [12]. This is a consequence of the system of water rights in the state; the movement and holding of rainwater is inextricably linked with ownership of water rights and is enshrined in the constitution of the State of Colorado. In short that means it’s basically illegally to catch and hold rain water in Colorado. Don’t let that happen in a state where you live.

To put in a rain water catchment system you could go online and make an order for something in the range of about $145 is where they start with anything of lasting quality and appeal. For me that’s always been too expensive and they never seemed big enough for my needs. Additionally I’m not looking for a continuous water supply for my gardens through rain catchment at this time. Thus, I sacrifice appeal and durability for something that works and provides water to thirsty gardens in a pinch. As you can from the pictures my rain catchment system is pretty sime. A 35 gallon garbage can from WalMart some screen door screen, silicone sealant and a PVC on/off valve. Total cost was less than $15. I have two of these systems connected to my rear downspouts. They are each equipped with overflow runoff connections and together provide 70 gallons of water which almost covers a weekly watering of the 250 square feet of gardens I manage. Not a perfect system by far but through this learning experience I plan to put in larger food grade water tanks with filters.

How to do my taxes in the most cost effective and time saving manner

an a personal story of a tax filing experience. No responsibility is to be attached to the owner or site for what you actually do with the information provided.

As you know the tax expecting to hear from you if you’re a tax payer within the next few days. Taxes are due Monday April 18, 2011 which is a little later than usual due to the celebration of emancipation day. If you’re like me and you owe taxes you might have put the chore of doing your taxes way down near the bottom of your to do list like I did in February. When I first attempted my taxes for 2011 I went to TaxSlayer.com as I have done every year since 2005. I have always done my own taxes except for 2003 when I moved back to the USA from Japan and utilized the services of an expensive tax preparer. In 2004 I bought TurboTax but in 2005 I had a coworker refer me to TaxSlayer as a cheaper alternative with the same results. I have never been disappointed in using at least until this past February. When I completed the online questions and filled in the required information I ended up owing the Federal government close to $2,000. That certainly wasn’t a cool thing to find out. What’s even less cool is the history of the Federal income tax.

Until 1913 there was no personal income tax however with the advent the of the federal reserve banking system it became necessary to enact an insurance program for the payment of interest on the national debt that began with the birth of the Federal reserve. So now we pay taxes but it’s more like paying the interest on your poor old and broke Uncle Sam’s credit card. Your poor old uncle spent 3.1 trillion dollars in 2009 but only collected 1.175 in personal income tax. Corporate taxes and employment taxes helped provide a little more than another trillion and the rest is borrowed hence the need for the interest payments.

Pretty sad isn’t it? Well it’s your money or your life and my wife expects me to be here everyday. Thus, I manage my Federal income tax but in a way that allows me some sense of control. Now most people expect refunds and many probably don’t have a choice as to how much is taken from each paycheck. The bad thing about that is the government keeps more money from you every paycheck than they are due, earn interest on it all year, and then make you file paperwork and wait and hope you get what you overpaid at face value. Thus if you receive a $500 refund sure it’s nothing to sneeze at but that’s $500 you could have kept in a small CD and at the end of a year could have earned some extra cash on top of it. Instead due to inflation the government took your money, earned interest on it and only paid you back the equivalent of $500 from year which this year is probably worth only $475.

My work situation allows me to alter the exemptions I as a result I fix them so I pay less in Federal income tax each pay day but have to reconcile at the end of the year. This year I owe but I will pay with money I have earned interest on and not the government. Not taking control of your exemptions if you have the opportunity is the same as throwing money away. Talk to your human resource department today to see what you can do to control your money.

Both turboTax and TaxSlayer allow you to work through your taxes for free up until the filing process. So doing the following comparisons was not only mopeny saving for me but educational.

Now as I mentioned I had a bill to settle with eh government but I first needed to check to see if my exemptions and the amount due reconciled. They did. My next thought was to panic and call a tax preparer for help. But I did that in 2003 and didn’t need to panic over some vain hope that a stranger would get me out of my bill. Instead I tried TurboTax again and when I finished the online process it seemed that I owed the government $200 less than what Tax Slayer stated. I proceeded as far as the e-filing process and then then noticed the $82 price tag for filing my Federal and state taxes through TurboTax. That was ridiculous.
I decided to give TaxSlayer another shot and reentered my information and then compared against TurboTax and double checked my information there. In the it turned that TurboTax had me making an unnecessary and the amount due to the government was the same on both systems. The difference. Filing both Federal and state returns through TaxSlayer was on $14.95. $67 less than TurboTax. Everything is filed with a few days to spare and if it’s not too late for you experiment with online tax filing systems and make the comparisons before you buy!

  • Using online services like TaxSlayer and TurboTax
  • When did the income tax begin?
  • Your money or your life!
  • Managing your exemptions
  • TaxSlayer wins due to cheapest and most efficient service
  • Tax reciept statistics from 2009 http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/article/0,,id=102886,00.html

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