Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Taxes, wah wah

I went to see the Jorge Cham lecture tonight, and then I came home and did my taxes. I would cry, but there's probably a tax on that too.

How can a grad student owe so much? Part of it is the way our pay is structured - the scholarship money (which is taxable if it goes beyond tuition, required fees, and books) doesn't have taxes taken out. In fact, it's not actually reported to the IRS - you just have to be honest or hope you don't get audited. With a Lutheran guilt complex and bad luck, I'm not taking my chances. Of course, the solution to this is to plan ahead - that is, have more taken out of my regular checks. I've changed my withholding so I'll be more caught up next time around. The other part is a financial decision I made that, again, pretty much boils down to you knew this would increase your income, so you should have planned for that!

Honestly, I can kvetch, but realistically I should be able to live on my stipend. Not live the high life, but for a grad student I'm doing fine. It's a matter of choices, and for example I couldn't spend much less on rent unless I moved to a much smaller place, and I'm not Zen enough to let go of my possessions. The biggest problem is that I have a lot of credit card debt, and without savings I'm just nibbling at interest every month. That is, it's a nibble in the debt, but a chunk out of my paycheck. That sucks, but that's my own fault, yes? If I had a time machine I could go back and warn my younger self. Having misplaced my flux capacitor, I will just have to live with the choices I have made.

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