As Featured on News Cult: 6 Tips for Doing Your Taxes

As someone who regularly does her taxes late and fumbles through them each time, I’ve learned there are several things you can do to make the process slightly less painful. And, as usual, if anyone else can benefit from my failures learning experiences, I hate them that’s a win. Follow these tips for doing your taxes so that you, too, don’t have to spend many-a-late night sobbing in a pile of receipts with your parents on FaceTime because you don’t understand what “depreciation” means and if you should itemize your deductions and the difference between a W-2 and a W-4 like why couldn’t they at least use different letters C’MON.

1. Get Turbo Tax

Good fucking luck doing your taxes by hand. And even with Turbo Tax, you’ll be crying tears of confusion, but it’s def the easiest way to DIY.

2. Take advantage of every possible deduction

So many things are tax deductible: charitable contributions (because you need another motive to donate besides just doing something nice), medical expenses, work expenses (including office supplies, miles driven for work, and even things like entertainment expenses–cable, movie tickets, iTunes, etc.–if you work in entertainment), etc. We’re poor so we’re going to claim the shit out of every deduction possible. GET THAT MONAYYYYY.


This means thinking ahead. Which we fail marvelously at. But it’s never too late to change, right? (Just vom’d a little in my mouth. Hate when people say that. FUCK people who say that).

So anyways, organize your receipts each year by category, starting Jan 1. E.g. “healthcare expenses,” “car expenses,” “work-related expenses,” etc. So that when it comes time to calculate deductions, you can simply tally them up vs. completely guessing and throwing random numbers out there that aren’t round in order to throw off suspicion. And keep all tax forms you’re given (like your W-2 from your employer, any tax forms related to your IRA, etc.) in one place so you can easily access them when tax season rolls around.

4. Start Early

Taxes are due April 15, so you should be starting in March at the latest, because they will take waaaaaay longer than you think. If you’re like me, though, and procrastination is your favorite hobby, you can always file an extension, in which case you have until October 15. HOWEVER: if you file an extension, you still have to pay any taxes you’ll owe by April 15, and if you don’t, you’ll have to pay a late fee come October 15. It’s kind of hard to estimate the amount of taxes you’ll owe without actually doing them, but Turbo Tax will help you calculate this. And if you won’t owe any taxes, obviously you don’t need to pay anything upfront and won’t owe a penalty. And if worse comes to worst, you’ll just pay the late fee, which isn’t horribly high (unless you owe a ton of taxes but we’re not rich so this is the one time being in the 99% pays off).

5. E-file

For both federal and state. So much easier than mailing in your returns. Then you don’t have to worry about a postmarked-or received-by deadline, or anything getting lost in the mail, or killing 5,000 trees by printing everything. Everyone wins.

6. But mail in your payments (if you end up owing taxes)

If you pay by credit card, you have to pay an extra fee, which is a percentage of your taxes owed, as opposed to mailing in a check along with a voucher slip to accompany your e-filed returns. And while we support taxes in theory, because they pay for public services, we also want to give the government the smallest amount of money possible. So fuck extra fees. And fuck tha police. 

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As Featured on News Cult: How to Ask for a Raise

TBH, you’re most likely overqualified and underpaid for your job. You’re probably in 5x as much student loan debt as you’re going to make in the next 5 years, yet you probably used those student loans to graduate summa cum laude from one of the country’s top private liberal arts colleges. Congratulations–your education got you approximately nowhere. But it’s too late to turn back now, so, instead, let’s focus on getting you up to the salary you deserve.

I don’t think there is any definitive timeline for when to ask for a raise–it depends on the job. But I absolutely think it’s reasonable to request one after you have put in sufficient time and effort (use your discretion to determine what that means for you–don’t be an asshole, but don’t be a doormat either). And, guess what? Most likely, unless you actually have a good boss which is practically unheard of, you’re going to have to ask for a raise, even if it’s obvious you deserve one. Because employers don’t want to pay you more–it’s in their interest not to.

But too bad for those fuckers, because they apparently don’t know who they’re dealing with. Who is that, you ask? US–we are Spartans. We are gladiators. We are champion eaters. We don’t back down when McDonald’s tells us we’re too old for a Happy Meal toy. And we’re not going to cower in fear of asking for a raise. Here are some methods I suggest you use to go about getting your desired result: mo’ money (but less problems–we really don’t need anymore problems at this point–like, we’re already the band geeks with bad acne who couldn’t get dates to prom so had to take our cousins–please don’t add headgear to that).

OWN the room

Walk into your boss’ office, preferably at a time when he or she (most likely he if we’re being honest–sexism in the workplace is REAL) is not expecting you, and slam your fist on their desk whilst declaring your value (priceless, a la MasterCard). I find it helpful to pretend you’re Oprah.

Make a list of your accomplishments

I mean it’s obvious to us why you’re an invaluable, shimmering bird of paradise, but just spell it out clearly so there’s no mistaking it–list the ways you have contributed and gone above and beyond, and either present it to your boss formally, or have it in your head so you can make your case in conversation. But don’t be boring about it–don’t just ramble things off. Make it a meaningful, dynamic presentation (so NO PowerPoints. If you use a PowerPoint, I will personally hunt you down and give you a strongly worded lecture).

Smile while you’re talking

I know this is foreign to us, but this way, you’ll come off as pleasant, confident and steady on the outside even though you hate everyone and everything and are dying of nerves on the inside.

Express your desire to grow at the company

Even if it’s total bullshit–you’re not going to get a raise if you are honest and say, “Hey, I kind of hate this fucking job and your stupid face, but can I have more money?” Throw in lots of flowery language about how you see the “growth potential” as an “exciting opportunity” and would love to keep “learning” from your colleagues, and “verticals” and “assets” and “collaboration” and “strategy” and “integration” and “brand optimization” and “diversifying” and “landscape.”

Choose your timing carefully

Request your raise at a time when your boss needs your support more than ever. I.e. during the few days after his wife has had their first baby, or when she finds out her husband has been having an affair, or when he’s preparing a very important presentation for his boss. Think of this less as taking advantage of them/the situation, and more as strategic genius.

Fake it til you make it

Listen, we’re not fooling anyone, least of all ourselves–we are self-doubting, anxious, painfully awkward trainwrecks. So we’re going to have to pretend our lives aren’t our lives to accomplish this one. Time to put that Girl Scout Theater Patch-qualifying acting class you took when you were 10 to use and act like you are sure of yourself and know your worth. So make like you’re in bed with the last guy you dated, and fake it.

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