Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Taxes Schmaxes

I hate tax season. Especially for this year. Our returns are taking forever in part because our files were a bit of a disaster. But I've learned a few little tips to keep us organized for next year, like the shockingly brilliant idea of actually filing papers in correctly labeled files. Like duh! Fingers crossed that all adult members of my family (ahem) will actually comply with ideas like these stemming from basic common sense.

We had 2 regular babysitters in 2010 for whom we are legally (and I also feel, ethically) obligated to file payroll taxes because they worked in our home, were over age 18, we paid them at least $1000 in any calendar quarter of the year and/or over $1700 that year. Simple enough parameters, so time to pay Uncle Sam, right? That way, should they ever need to make an unemployment claim, they'll get all the funds to which they're entitled, and it hopefully someday they'll have a little more money to put to use in retirement (that is of course assuming Social Security is still around when today's 20- and 30-somethings retire). So allow me to share our tale of two babysitters with two vastly different views on taxation. But before I do, can I just take a moment to say how much easier it would be if there were actually good daycare in Podunkville? Then at least we'd have no real tax issues to have to concern ourselves with.

Sitter One was a 20-year-old white chick born and raised in Podunkville. When I had her complete an I-9 Form when we hired her, she didn't list her social security number, as she did not know it. She worked for us for about 7 months, was sick a lot, and was late a lot, then once day she told us she was getting married at age 19 and needed to find a job with health insurance & benefits. Fair enough - so we agreed upon an end date 2 months hence. Two weeks later she informs us she needs to quit a little sooner, like on the following Monday. I then have to reschedule a bunch of meetings and work shit. Apparently, she's never heard of the professional courtesy of 2 weeks' notice. I actually wasn't too pissed about it; as I had become quite used to her flakiness.

After the Great Summer 2010 Sitter Hunt of Podunkville that lasted 2 frenetic weeks, enter Sitter Two who starting taking care of our kids in June. She is one of the best things that has ever happened to my family. We have given her raises, and all of the bonuses and perks we can reasonably afford (which isn't much...). She just makes everyone's life so much better. She happens to be a Mexican-American immigrant who may or may not be here legally - I honestly can't tell, nor will I be asking too many questions about her immigration status. We have fulfilled every legal requirement though, just like with Sitter One: she filled out a I-9 form, we examined the documents from the I-9 list, made a copy of her social security card, and we still keep them on file, along with the I-9 form we still have on file or Sitter One. Legally that's all we need to do. We need NOT do the work of the friggin Border Patrol or act like we live in Arizona.

In early January, Sitter Two double checks with me and asks me to please file taxes for her if I can - I said "Of course I will." Last month we put together the 2010 W-2's for both sitters. I had to text Sitter One to get her SS# - asking her to please call me with it. No response after 2 days, I ask again. She said "oh yeah sorry I forgot" and texted me back with it instead of calling me. Texting one's SS# = probably not the smartest move ever. Both W-2's went out in the mail by the January 31st mailing deadline, then we filed them with the SSA. (Sorry to bore you with these details, I promise I'm getting to the point soon.)

A few weeks later, Sitter One texts me "I wish you would of [sic] told me you were gonna make me pay taxes, cuz nobody i ever nannied for has, then i could of [sic] had time to prepare."

I was actually disappointed to get that text. I told DH, who in his no-nonsense way basically said, "She really isn't very bright, is she?" I had to resist every temptation to get into a texting war with this silly little womanchild. As if I enjoy paying taxes on someone who honestly wasn't that good, and as if we really have a choice? Aren't the only certainties in life death and taxes? But I digress. After pondering several different retorts and explanations, I simply texted back: "That's the law. Call me if you have any questions." Haven't heard anything back from her about it and I don't expect to. But bizarrely enough she did list DH as an employment reference and the prospective employer actually called... more proof that she isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. Lucky for her, DH is way too nice of a guy to throw her under the bus even though she sucks in all of the areas one generally needs to be a decent employee. But around people we know really, really well DH is pretty candid. DH wishes he could tell this story to the Tea Partiers who think that "real Americans" like Sitter One are losing ground in this country to "all of the illegals who don't pay taxes." There you have it.

In other news, I realize the Oscars have come and gone, and I recall blogging about them last year... so that means my blogaversary has come and gone without even a mention. What can I say, I guess I'm still at it. Glad someone out there is still reading.


Parisienne Mais Presque said...

I love your text response to Sitter One! Man, some people just don't get it. I hope DH did, at least, in a gentle way let the prospective employers know that she isn't a good pick. (We'll be gearing up for a nanny search here in a few months, since alas, the wonderful nanny we had with le Petit has gone on to a new gig. Can you tell I'm just a bit nervous about it?)

Oh, and I feel the same way DH does about the Tea Partiers when I hear anti-immigration crap from the French extreme right. First, I AM an immigrant (although one who unjustly gets put into a different category from immigrants from other places), and second, many of my colleagues, my friends, and, yes, my former nanny are immigrants, too. Truly we're all collectively a menace to French society, and, what's more, we're stealing good jobs from people whose families were here since Charlemagne.

BTW, it always seemed ironic to me that the only federal agency that does not care about someone's immigration status and probably never will is the IRS.

caramama said...

Wow. That's a story to share with all those who are anti-immigration! Amazing how flaky the first sitter is/was! I'm glad you found such a great sitter with the second!

Happy blogoversary! (I always forget to even mention mine.) I'm so glad you started blogging. :-)

Claudia said...

~Waving immigrant flag~

Yes yes, we all suck and are polluting the ponds. I'm glad you're seeing the people, and not the stripe.

I, like Parisienne Mais Presque, am differently categorized. However, that one-point-five class status isn't helping me get a job here, because the Danes believe that Thou Shalt Hold a Degree in the Intented Line of Work Thou Applies For. Preferably a Danish degree. I have neither. I am a learn-on-the-job, networking sort of soul. They don't get that here.

Oh right, this isn't my blog. Happy Blogaversary!

mom2boy said...

Great post!

Cloud said...

Yeah, I married an immigrant who is, like @Parisienne, conveniently excepted from anti-immigrant tirades that are unleashed within my hearing. Drives me nuts.

And good on you for paying the taxes! My laziness about dealing with this sort of the thing is why we use a cleaning service instead of hiring an independent cleaner (which would be cheaper).

Caryn Caldwell said...

Wow! Wonder what would happen if I got my first paycheck from a new employer, looked at the deductions, and whined, "I wish you'd have told me I'd have to pay taxes on my paycheck". She sounds very entitled to me, with no work ethic and no sense of reality (not to mention poor grammar).

Jac said...

I don't know about where you are but here, if you fail to withhold the tax deductions from an employee, make the required employer tax contributions, and report properly, it can end up costing you major money in penalties and fines. Not to mention, your name would be blackmarked by CRA (our IRS) and you would likely find yourself audited more frequently in the future. I wouldn't even consider hiring a nanny/sitter under the table. I agree with @Caryn, Sitter One sounds seriously entitled and needs a reality check. Thankfully, no longer your problem.

Congrats on your blogaversary!

hush said...

@Parisienne Mais Presque - Glad you liked my text response. I'm sure you'll find another great nanny when you start looking. BTW if a prospective employer who was considering hiring Sitter One as a nanny called (she's looking for work in other, non-childcare fields) DH and I would tell it to them straight!

@caramama - Thanks, I'm glad I started blogging, too. And thank you for encouraging me to get started.

@Claudia - Sorry to hear that Danes are Overly Literal when it comes to university degrees and careers. Let your immigrant flag fly!

@mom2boy - Gracias!

@Cloud - What is up with crazy anti-immigrant tirades* except against white, Native English-speaking, and/or European immigrants? Sounds like good ol' fashioned racism to me.

@Caryn Caldwell - I couldn't agree with you more, and thank you for such a perfect analogy!

@Jac - I think, based on your comment, that we must work in a very, very similar field. You must be my Doppleganger. Like I'm the American version of you I think.