It’s That Time Again

taxesI still keep waiting for the ball to drop, but I don’t think it’s coming this year. For the first time since I hit the road, my taxes were, well, almost easy. Maybe it only seems easier because of the practice and accumulated knowledge of having done it for several years now. Either way, I approve of this development.

As always I used TurboTax to do the deed, but it only took 4.25 hours instead of the 7 hours last year. Two of those hours were for bookkeeping for the blog, which is technically a business no matter how much fun, and the other two and a quarter hours were for actually inputting info on TurboTax.

My tax situation was simpler in 2015. I only worked in states without income tax so I only had to file Federal (which also saved me money on filing costs), and I only had to file for one “business” instead of two – in 2014 I worked as an independent contractor at a renaissance festival, which required me to start a second reported business of Acting to the IRS.

I did have one extra thing to deal with this year that didn’t exist last year, my Affordable Care Act health insurance through the Marketplace. Let me try to explain how this works, for those of you pre-retirement folks thinking of hitting the road.

When you sign up for insurance through the Marketplace, you may qualify for subsidies from the government on your monthly premium depending on what your estimated income is going to be for the calendar year. For 2015, that income level was $46,680 or less for a single person.

Then at the end of the year, the government looks at how much money you actually made versus how much you paid for your health insurance, and adjusts accordingly. If you guessed too low, you end up owing the government for credits you shouldn’t have gotten and pay more in taxes. It was the opposite for me, I guessed high and should have received a higher subsidy so I got some money back.

Total, I owed $386 in taxes this year, which wasn’t bad. I take zero tax exemptions on my seasonal jobs intentionally to offset the fact that nothing is deducted from my writing income, but this year my writing income was high enough that I still ended up owing some. Now it’s done and I won’t have to worry about it for another year.

    • For last year’s post on taxes, click here.
    • For more about how Marketplace health insurance works for a full-time RVer, click here.
    • If you’d like to see my cost of living and income report for each year I’ve been on the road, click here (I do need to update it now that I have the official numbers from the IRS for 2015).

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15 Responses to It’s That Time Again

  1. Christi February 26, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

    Ugh. I hate getting taxes together. Every year I promise myself that I will be more particular during the year. (I own a business) But I generally end up taking boxes of paper to my accountant. Good thing she loves me. 🙂

    Question – did you work at the Renaissance Festival in Atlanta? Any chance you are doing that again? The 4th graders at our school visit on “School Days” every year. When I went with my older daughter we had a great time. Set to go with the younger one this year.

    Enjoying every post!!!

    Good wishes from Mississippi

    • Becky February 27, 2016 at 10:49 am #

      Luckily my business paperwork is pretty simple Christi. 🙂

      Yes I did, in the spring of 2014. There was no Student Day that year because of tornado warnings, but otherwise it was a fun thing to do once. Doubt the chance will present itself to do it again.

  2. Ron February 26, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

    What a relief to get taxes done. I never look forward to that task.

    • Becky February 27, 2016 at 10:52 am #

      Me either Ron. this time I did it the day after my mail arrived. No agonizing over the wait.

  3. Jim@HiTek February 27, 2016 at 7:24 am #

    Have you considered becoming a contractor? The tax breaks the US government gives small business owners are nothing short of amazing. You don’t need to make a profit for 5 years, you get to deduct your travel expenses going to work and from job to job, deduct mileage on your vehicle for wear and tear, buy stuff and deduct it from your taxes if it’s used to generate income, etc., etc., etc.. For instance, you can deduct part of your domicile if used exclusively to generate income. So part of your Casita is deductible, as is the computer you use to generate income from your writing, the printer, the paper, the ink. And on and on.

    Check out how easy Schedule C is to complete. I did it for 16 years and after the first couple years it’s easy if you’ve kept receipts, kept track of your mileage (you find little diaries in the paper section of most stores just for this) and kept copies of your invoices.

    Ask your next employer, especially if you’ve worked for them before, if you can be hired as a contractor. You’d need to get an EIN from the government (used in place of your SSN), and you’d want to negotiate a fair wage with any employers. To figure out a fair hourly rate, I would usually find the going hourly rate for a job in that area and double that to use for my charging rate to start with. This is because you have to pay your own benefits and the hiring company doesn’t, plus they save accounting money. All they do is pay your invoice.

    I meant to travel around as a contractor when I retired 8 years early, but turned out I had enough money I didn’t need to. But I felt it would be the best way to save on taxes while on the road if I needed.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is not a way to cheat the government out of taxes, you still pay taxes, it’s just that it makes it so much more to your benefit if you’re a small business.
    Jim@HiTek recently posted..Flea Market Visit…My Profile

    • Becky February 27, 2016 at 10:54 am #

      I was able to do some of that deduction stuff for the Ren Fest Jim, it was a pain. More trouble than it was worth, at least for me.

      And I couldn’t deduct any part of the Casita, since none of it would be for work only. It’s too small to have a dedicated office space, etc. I looked into that years ago.

      Thanks for the advice though, may help others reading. 🙂

  4. Reine in Plano February 27, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    Glad you got your taxes done. I have a friend who says paying taxes is one of his favorite things to do. Why? Because the more he has to pay, the more he’s been blessed during the year! I’ve always thought that was a great outlook. You had to pay some because your writing income was higher this year. Isn’t that great?

    Now that taxes are done, you can relax and enjoy camping and hiking and get some writing done until it’s time to head to your next paid position.

    • Becky February 27, 2016 at 11:16 am #

      Indeed Reine!

  5. Jodee Gravel February 27, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

    Still waiting for my 1099 to show up in my email…..arrgghh, I hate waiting for others to do their job. Nice that your increased income didn’t ding you too bad in taxes – and they’re done!!!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..In Search of KnowledgeMy Profile

    • Becky February 28, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

      Bah I hate that feeling Jodee! I always wait until middle of Feb to start taxes because I know some things legally don’t need to be sent out until then, so if I started earlier there’s always the chance I’d be missing something!

      When your last form arrives, hope it goes easy. 🙂

  6. Rene Kipp February 28, 2016 at 11:42 am #

    We’re about to hit the road this year 🙂 Up until this point, we’ve paid our accountant to fill in all the blanks on our tax forms. I do the books myself as there is way too many receipts and invoices. You’ve given me the hope that I can fill in the forms myself via Turbo Tax when tax time comes around again next year.
    Rene Kipp recently posted..It’s Not A Short ListMy Profile

    • Becky February 28, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

      It helps that all my business is online and I can go to my account in Amazon and PayPal and see a printout of every transaction for a calendar year. In fact I save those reports as PDFs on my computer as proof.

      Congrats on your imminent departure! I bet you’re very excited, safe travels and happy trails ahead. 🙂

      • nikita June 6, 2016 at 12:20 am #

        That brings up a question for me: where/how do you backup your laptop? I’m not on the road yet, so I backup to thumb drives that I store here at home, but also do it on an external hard drive every few months and store it in my bank lockbox for an off-site backup in case of fire/flood. Do you use a ‘cloud’ or what? Thanks!

        • Becky June 6, 2016 at 9:44 am #

          Just my external hard drive and thumb drives Nikita, if you have the extra money though, a cloud drive is a good way to do it.

          • nikita June 6, 2016 at 10:14 am #

            As a former software educator/geek, I just like to keep a backup off-site from the original source and wondered how you’d do it when you’re mobile – especially when you mentioned your financial records. If someone ‘only’ steals the laptop, you’ve got a backup, but not if it’s more, the entire trailer, fire/flood/etc. Not picking on you! Just wondering how people handle this as I prepare myself, and I’ve lost data by not having it stored elsewhere. What a freaking nightmare! Really impacted my business for a while.

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