Tuesday, February 26, 2008
As I've mentioned before, things have been tight financially lately, especially since my long term disability insurance company terminated my benefits in October. I was thinking I was gonna get some kind of break when I filed my taxes as I usually get a significant refund due to huge medical expenses. But I was totally outraged to discover that I actually OWE the government money, for the first time in my life!
What happened was this: I received a disability pension in 2007 that included back payment for 2006. This was used to pay debts incurred in 2006 when I had practically zero income. But I'd had no taxes taken out because when I filled out the form W-4P, it was determined that my pension was too small to affect my tax situation much.
Because I got a lump sum in 2007, even though it included an amount for prior years, I had to include the whole sum for 2007 income. That bumped me up into a higher tax bracket. And that, in return, made more of my SSDI taxable.
So even though we had less total income, more mortgage interest and more medical expenses than last year, the amount we were taxed was significantly higher, over three times higher than last year! And I made just a few dollars too many to qualify me for the disability tax credit. If I am so "rich" on paper, what have I got to show for it?
It is incredibly frustrating, being considered too wealthy by the government to qualify for any breaks but not quite wealthy enough to be considered truly middle class. It isn't right when someone has one-fourth of their adjusted gross income going to medical expenses but still can't deduct enough to offset taxes. I know others are far less fortunate than I am, but I still feel like the government is unfairly punishing me.
If the politicians running for president were truly serious about helping with the tax situation, they would eliminate the 7.5 percent limitation on medical deductions and eliminate tax on SSDI benefits. Just doing that would help millions of Americans, many of whom are just barely getting by. That would be much more of an economic stimulus than the current rebate plan, and it might enable people to buy insurance who can't otherwise afford it.
I wouldn't be half so angry if I'd been living some extravagant lifestyle and could remedy the situation by foregoing a country club membership or something. But I filled out all the paperwork correctly and checked it three times, and it's just an unfortunate aberration. It's just much harder to shrug off this debt because I don't have an abundance of discretionary income.
I know I'm not the only one who experiences stuff like this. It causes me more stress than my illness does.
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