mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I ♥ tax time...

Most people have a strong negative reaction to tax time. For the most part, I never really cared - I would typically get a few bucks back, which was nice, but not enough to get excited about.

Then, last year, I bought a house. Now, I look forward to tax time - as soon as the calendar switched to 2008, I started looking for deals on TurboTax and checking the mailbox for my 1098's and W2.

Yesterday, I got the last two things I needed to complete my taxes - my employer's W2 and the copy of TurboTax I ordered from

So this morning, I brewed a little more coffee than usual, plopped my sweatpants-clad butt in my leather office chair in front of the MadAnthony Command Center (actually a Celeron with dual flat panels) and did my taxes.

In an hour or so, I had my returns done. I'm getting back $4,088 from the Feds and $1,244 back from the state. I even got a $55 energy savers credit for the new door I got last year.

Granted, I don't know when I'll actually have the money in pocket - I'm going to mail my return today (because I can't bring myself to spend the $18 to eFile), but the Fed return says that they would prefer you to mail it after February 11 because they can't start processing them until then because of the changes to the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax). But considering that my plans are to use the money to pay off some debt and get my backyard fenced, it's not like I need the money immediately.

Most of the time, I question my choice to buy a house last year. After all, prices have dropped, and home ownership has it's share of hassles and costs. But when I see how much my rebate increases after I plug in my mortgage interest, I'm thrilled. Yes, I know it's my money, that the government is giving me back. And it's possible that even after you factor it in, it may have been cheaper for me to rent than buy, at least in the short term. But it definitely makes home ownership more attractive.

So should madanthony get a break just for owning a house? Is it fair that people who can't afford houses don't get these breaks? Given the recent events of the housing market, you could argue that the last thing people need is an incentive to buy houses. But long-term, I think home ownership is a good investment - at some point, you get it paid off, and that takes away a big monthly expense, and long-term it does generally increase in value. And it's a good way to force you to save, since lots of people might not actually bank the extra money they save on cheaper rent.

But I think it's also good in other ways. It helps communities - areas where people own their homes tend to be more stable, and people tend to be more concerned about the goings-on, than people in areas that are all rentals. Homeowners are also going to spend more money on their homes, keeping people employed in lots of related sectors. In the 18 months I've owned Casa De Mad, I've spent thousands getting new carpet, a new AC condenser, a new front door, plus lots of smaller purchases - paint, electrical, light fixtures, furniture, ect. Housing is a huge employer, and things like home improvement can't be outsourced or done cheaper in China. So I do think it has merit.


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