by Brendan Smith
Weirs Times Editor
I realize there are still a few weeks to go but now is really the time to start thinking about doing your taxes.
To those of you who have already done your taxes, good for you, but we are all tired of hearing about it, so please just go away for a little while.
For those who haven’t even thought about them yet, I am once again here to help.
There are a lot of changes to the tax code this year. With things like the fine, uh, tax you have to pay if you don’t have health insurance, there are a lot of other things as well you might not be aware of; some good, some bad.
I happen to know a few CPAs (Certain People to Ask) who know people who help you with taxes for a living (though their title escapes me at the moment). They have overheard these people talking at cocktail parties about some of the things people might not know about new deductions and stuff. They wrote them down on soggy cocktail napkins and have given them to me to pass on to you.
Have you got a piece of paper (or soggy cocktail napkin) ready?
Here we go.
First the bad news. Starting this year it is mandatory that all computers now have virus protection. If you don’t you have to pay a fine, uh, tax. It will only be a few dollars this year but it will be more in 2016. The government has its own virus protection you can install on your computer. It is all part of the ACA (All Computer Act) otherwise known as Obamaware and you can get it even if you can’t afford it. Of course, the government will have complete access to all of your files and emails once it is installed but, hey, it’s cheap and it’s the law.
For all of you who have been taking advantage of the Buy One Get One Free sales incentives that have become a big part of retail, the new BoGo Tax might catch you unaware. The government, lacking ways to get money from taxpayers, now consider each item you get for free as income since it has value and you didn’t have to pay for it. I really hope you have been keeping track. The audits can be ugly on this one.
There are a few new deductions this year you might not know about.
Scratch Ticket Deduction – Any avid gambler knows that you can deduct how much you spent on losing tickets if you happen to be one of those rare types who actually wins something. This will not change. But for those of you who continue to buy scratch tickets without a significant winner, you can now get an energy tax credit of up to $3,000 if you have enough losing tickets to insulate a room in your home. So don’t throw them away.
Facebook Deduction – You can now take a deduction for friends on Facebook who you can count as a dependent. A dependent being someone who can not get through a normal day without commenting on or “liking” one of your posts. This is a tricky one to prove but if you have Obamaware it will be easy.
There are also a couple of new deductions based on television programs.
The HGTV Deduction – This deduction can be taken if you were led to believe that you could accomplish the same home improvement projects as efficiently as the people on any HGTV show. The deduction would be based on fifty percent of the cost of a professional contractor to clean up your mess. (Of course if you were under the impression you could actually accomplish the complete renovation in a half-hour, just like on the show, the deduction will be voided.)
The Weather Channel Deduction – This deduction is related to the amount of money you had to spend to prepare for another “Storm Of The Century” that was hammered into you by 24/7 Weather Channel reporting but never appeared. All that money you spent on the last canned food on the shelf at the supermarket that would help keep you alive while civilization crumbled around you but now sits on your shelf never to be actually eaten, you can deduct that. Just make sure you don’t actually eat the anchovy stuffed pimentos in BBQ sauce and other items for at least three years in case of an audit (like when they come to check your BoGo purchases).
I hope some of this helps you. I realize you might turn to this column for some humor but every once in a while I like to provide some public service.