Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Adoption Taxes and (Re)Funding It Forward

Happy tax filing day! Yeah, I know, that made no sense. At least we have Dave Barry for comic relief.

I got our taxes taken care of a few weeks ago and we already have our refunds. The federal was big but not as big as I'd hoped. We were able to claim the adoption tax credit, but because (a) we don't make much and (b) what I make is subject to self-employment tax, we could only get a portion of it back this year. Self-employed adopters take note: See, when you work for a company, your employer puts in 6 percent and you put in 6 percent toward Social Security, etc. When you are self-employed you put in both parts, 12 percent, and that's not refundable, no matter what credits you have. You can't get back what you didn't put in--OR what you put in for self-employment. And that was more than I thought. Gotta get me some of them business deductions.

We can continue claiming the adoption tax credit over five years, but the really sucky part is that barring a change in circumstances (like winning the lotto or, uh, getting a real job), over five years we still won't get it all back. I hate this because it feels like leaving money on the table--money intended to help those who otherwise couldn't afford it be able to adopt. Like, you know, us. Meanwhile people who make a lot of money will get the full credit back and head off to Disney World. Okay, maybe they won't, and it's their prerogative to visit Mickey if they want to. I really shouldn't complain since we are getting money back plus, you know, getting to live here for almost nothing and all. It just seems like the spirit of the credit isn't working out in application for us. Others who seem to need it less will get more cash back than we will, continuing and exacerbating that they may have cash on hand to adopt again and I can't imagine at this moment how we'll ever pull it off.

I probably would care less about this if I didn't think I hear a giant sucking sound coming from the area of our home's equity. Or is it the gas tank?

I guess I'm grateful we're getting I think $1500 in "stimulus" money in May. Except that I think the whole thing is kind of stupid--that we're basically adding to the debt to do it; that my parents who make gobs more than us will get almost as much and buy nothing that they wouldn't have otherwise bought if they wanted it; that senior citizens who normally don't file taxes had to go through the rigmarole of filing basically a blank tax return; and especially that it cost the IRS $42 MILLION to send us letters letting us know they'd be sending us something else. They couldn't come up with some other way to spread that information? Media or something? I mean, they don't send letters when the terror alert level goes up to orange--oh wait, that's stupid too.

Of course the check will help a lot of families, including ours. I guess we'll see if/how it affects the economy at large. I can't find the blog I read that started me thinking about it, but a few organizations are putting out the challenge: what if everyone who can afford it decided to pay it forward to charities and nonprofits and others in need instead of buying something else we don't need? Can you imagine the difference it could make to a rural after-school literacy program, an urban church with a crumbling building, a meals on wheels program struggling with gas prices? Let's stimulate those good works!

Can you pass on 10, 20, 50, or 100 percent of this extra money? We honestly need to pay down debts with most of our check, but I pledge right now (because I am so totally awesome at making financial decisions without my husband. Yeah!) that we will tithe 10 percent of our stimulus check to something worthwhile. Who's willing to join in?


Us said...

All the adoption credit did for us was balance against money owed. What we did was to claim more deductions so we would have more "cash on hand" throughout the year after we adopted; when it came time to "owe" the government, the tax credit would balance it. We could only do it for 3 years.

If you don't owe taxes, the credit doesn't help at all. You don't get it back in cash. Otherwise we'd have gone to DisneyWorld already!

Jodi said...

We're up for the 10% towards something worthwhile!!! Great post, Wendy!

paige said...

Ooh Wendy, I know the PERFECT place to forward your money. Some of us Ethiopia adoption mamas have gotten together and created a charity--Ethiopian Orphan Relief. We're waiting for our 501c3 status before we begin knocking on doors, but you know, if you knock first, I feel it is my neighborly duty to open up!

The best part about Ethiopian Orphan Relief is that it isn't intended to benefit a particular orphanage (or agency). We're casting the net wide! In case you feel like gifting us...

In an odd twist of fate, because Albert's employer paid our relocation expenses and we were given a living stipend (to offset the cost of living in SF) we made too much money last year to receive the stimulus cash. I know I should be happy--we made plenty last year, but let me tell you, the extra money that put us over the income line--we really didn't see it--it really was the cost of two cross-country relocations in 10 months in this case. Oh well, other people can enjoy Disney for us; we have enough and some to fund our charitable giving.

RMMcDowell said...

I agree! We made that pledge, too. Now to get our money, give some away, and use the rest (well, most of it anyway) to stimulate our savings account depleted by real life!!