Taxes are like…

…taking a test where you’re encouraged to cheat, but in order to do so you have to fill out more forms. Which kind of integrates the punishment with the reward.

Apparently tax programs make it really easy to cheat, but I’m ideologically opposed to paying someone else for that privilege, especially since I’m childless and houseless—making taxes an apparent walk in the park for me. As an aside: shouldn’t software that helps people pay less taxes be free and open source? Oh wait: TaxGeek.

My life should be all 1040EZ, except for those Google Ads you’ll see on my post pages if you come in from outside the site. This year I netted $695 from Google, reported to the government as non-employee compensation (1099-MISC). Last year the amount was less than $400, which I considered not worth my time to even look at Schedule C and SE. Of course last year I had the pleasure of filling out all my tax forms twice (1040, CA, and NC) in order to demonstrate the additional tax burden of a surprise bonus (in the form of moving expenses), but that’s neither here nor there.

So now there’s Schedule C-EZ, where I get to report how much I made minus my expenses. And if the difference (aka PROFIT!) is more than $400, I have the great honor of paying taxes on that amount (roughly 15%). So the game of being in business for yourself comes down to: finding expenses. The reality probably is that I spend a lot more on my blog than I think (e.g. $278 to resurrect the laptop I’m presently using), so much so that I bet could take a loss on this little blogging enterprise of mine, and then deduct that loss from my actual salaried income. But that means filling out more longer forms, and frankly, I’ve got better things to do with my time.

By my rough estimates, web hosting cost me $120/year and cable internet cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $600/year. The part that gets me is that I don’t have to explicitly defend these expenses. I just say my expenses were $695, making my profit from blogging a sad $0. Here’s the good news. Google sent the government $195 on my behalf. Which I can report as part of my federal taxes already withheld, and which bumped me from owing $105 to getting a refund of $61. How you like them apples?

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