I worked on my taxes this morning. In past years, it was a little like playing the slot machines watching the turbo tax refund box tick up and down until it landed on a nice sizable sum. It is now one of my least favorite activities. Now the question seems to be who do we owe and how much. I’ve been thinking a lot about taxes lately because of how this is now really figuring into my decision on how to balance paid work and family life. We’re stuck in that place that most young families in high cost of living areas find themselves. We’re young professionals making a decent dual income but we don’t make enough to be able to afford to buy a house. Therefore, we can’t take the mortgage interest deduction to be able to itemize our taxes.
So…I’m trying to figure out how to work it so that I make enough in whatever my next job is to supplement my husband’s modest teacher salary while keeping our tax bill to a minimum. This is not to say that I’m opposed to paying taxes. In my soon to be former career, I work for a local government. I know what taxes are used for, and they are things that I value like education, public safety, and infrastructure. However, I do believe that the current tax structure places an disproportionate burden on the wage earning class. I also feel as though dual income families are also further burdened because when the second parent has to go to work because they need to earn a sufficient income to pay for all the expenses associated with it. This includes things beyond the traditional childcare expenses; it ranges all the way from convenience meals because no one is home to cook to household help.
I hope that in working through this in the next several months that we’ll find a good balance where one of us can be almost solely dedicated to taking care of the family and the other can focus on earning a livable wage. I’ll admit that I’m scared and perhaps even terrified to see our gross income chopped in half in the next few months. I remember days in the not too distant past when we struggled to pay our bills. I do feel better equipped now after these past few years since I’ve focused on budgeting, paying off debt, and keeping our expenses contained. So perhaps, next year, when we do our taxes, in a much lower tax bracket, I won’t sigh when I see that magic number in the turbo tax box. Maybe it’ll even be green.