I feel compelled to share a new life “first” in my personal treasure trove of experience- although it once again reveals just how irresponsibly I live my life -so … Maybe irresponsibly is not a good descriptor – how about, laid back – yeah, that feels better. Whatever – before I tell you what the new “first” is, I must tell you that for the past thirty+ years (probably more!), I’ve not filed my IRS tax return on April 15th! Yup – initially, the reason was that we were making annual contributions to our IRAs, and if you requested an extension, you got an additional 3 months to make a larger contribution, and a larger deduction! But, eventually, it just became an excuse to avoid the yearly pain-in-the-ass, April 15th affair – that, and the fact that, down deep, I’m just a lazy guy!
And this year was no different – even though I knew, or at least, suspected, that we’d not have anything to pay at filing time. Now, like millions of others, we were making monthly withdrawals from our IRAs to augment our skimpy Social Security income – and those had a monthly withdrawal for state and federal taxes – but, round about April or May of 2008, we recognized that it was fool-hardy to continue our IRA withdrawals, and we cut them off – just flat cut them off! And I’m sure that millions of others like us did the same.
I remember at the time thinking, “How the hell are we going to pay all these bills without that money coming in?” But one absolute that old age teaches everyone is that not only can we always easily live just a little above our means, but, if necessary, we can always adjust to living below our means as well – it’s an attitude thing – and the earlier in life you get that fact in your head, the richer your life will be. Amazingly, this past year has reinforced that truth once more, and literally without any pain, we have made the adjustment – we’re doing fine.
OK, sorry – I had to share all that info as prelude to telling you what the new “first” was – for the first time in my life, my IRS return says our taxes are 0 – that’s Zero! Now, having NO tax on your return is not the same as not having anything to pay at filing time – I just want those of you out there who may not realize the difference to understand that it is possible to exist, and have a steady income stream, and yet have NO tax at all at filing time. Amazing!
Now, please understand me here; I’m not suggesting this is a worthy goal – and the reason why I’m not is that the major reason why the feds so graciously structure the tax system this way is because those of us who achieve this state of being are going through economic distress- sometimes, very severe economic distress! But, as I suggest above, depending on your attitude, and state of mind, this scenario can be either earth-shattering, or quite bearable – and in our case, the latter applies.
I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but the prognosis is for this current year to be a repeat of the last – there is some suggestion of the positive however, since Sandee’s absurdly expensive medical insurance ($850 a month) will end as her Medicare eligibility begins next year – and that may bring such a radical change once more to our budget that we’ll once more slip into our sloppy ways. Oh well – being human means occasionally coming face-to-face with those frailties which make us human – and I’m not sure that that isn’t such a bad thing to be forced into.