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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 28, 2005 10:44 AM. The previous post in this blog was Because we're "at war". The next post in this blog is The best of Portland. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Give it up for the gubmint

A reminder of some unpleasant year-end business that could save you a few bucks -- payment of your 2005 state and local taxes. If you itemize your deductions on your 2005 federal income tax return, and you're not subject to the federal alternative minimum tax (AMT), you'll be eligible to deduct whatever you paid in 2005 in state and local taxes. That means that if you pay your state and local taxes by the end of 2005, they'll be available as deductions on your 2005 federal return. If you wait until April to pay, you won't be able to deduct them until your 2006 federal return, which is more than a year away at this point.

So if you expect to owe, say, Oregon income tax for the year, and you won't owe federal AMT, get your estimated tax return and check in the mail, postmarked no later than Saturday. The form is here. And of course, all of us who live in Multnomah County will be paying county income tax again. If you itemize deductions on your federal return and don't owe AMT, now's the time to pungle up to the county. Form MC ES (pictured above) is the form you use to pay now, and it's available on page 17 of this pdf file.

I suspect that's the last we'll see of that form, and that particular tax, for a good long while.

UPDATE, 11:28 p.m.: An alert reader correctly points out that the early-payment gambit won't make much sense if you're subject to the federal alternative minimum tax (AMT), which affects many upper-middle- and high-income taxpayers. If you know you're going to be subject to AMT, don't pay your state and local taxes any earlier than the state or locality requires. I've revised the orignal post above to make that distinction.

Comments (25)

It's not enough that we get thoughtful and informative (and provocative) reading material -- we also get free tax advice! A heartfelt thank you, Jack, and best wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2006.

Allan L.

I say pay early and pay a little extra.

"You'll be eligible to deduct whatever you paid in 2005 in state and local taxes."

Anyone else sending in extra?

The county and schools need it.

Assuming that you itemize, then for every dollar you send to the state or county, it's probably somewhere between 10 and 35 cents less that you'll have to pay the feds this year.

That's also true of what you give to nonprofit charities between now and Saturday. Subvert the federal budget!

The county needs it.

Yes, without extra money they would not have been able to install a Klingon croquet court on top of the admin building. A building which, by the way, Columbia Sportsware wanted to buy (and keep on the tax rolls) but our clever commissioners coveted the building, and pulled the rug from under Columbia by a clever manipulation of assessed valuation.

And then the city wouldn't let them go down by OMSI, and the rest is history.

BTW, "Klingon croquet court" is a classic. Original?

Yep. I married up the plans for them to hire a Klingon interpreter for the mental health department with the lawn on their roof... seemed like a natural.

"Anyone else sending in extra?

The county and schools need it."

I got plenty - I believe even if you send in extra, when you finally file taxes it would come back as a refund.

If you really wish to give extra to PPS, write the check directly to them.

Giving extra to Multnomah County means less of each dollar would reach the school district.

And what percentage of the population itemizes?
Won't that deduction be available mostly to those in the upper income bracket? Not trying to start a war, just trying to see this from another side.

And Lister shouldn't you be spelling that with all "K"s?
M.

Ah. Sending it early would be great but for the fact that if you are already in the AMT territory, it doesn't do you any good (sending it all does you no good if you're already paying AMT).

Paying it early also assumes you know how much you owe.

HA! HA!

I got plenty you are killing me.

that's the best one I heard all year -and the year is almost over!

Sending more money to Multnomah County!!!

Are you just a chump, or are you a stupid chump?

"Anyone else sending in extra?

The county and schools need it."

Yeah right. Because they are such faithful stewards with our money? Not one penny more.

Sending it early would be great but for the fact that if you are already in the AMT territory, it doesn't do you any good (sending it all does you no good if you're already paying AMT).

Paying it early also assumes you know how much you owe.

Correct -- if you're subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT), this gambit may not make sense. And knowing whether you're going to have to pay AMT is a very complicated business.

Assuming you're not in AMT land, and you don't know how much you'll owe the state or county, it's worth it to estimate and pay. If you overpay the state or county, they'll send you a refund. You can still deduct the full amount paid in '05 on your federal return, but you'll have to report the refund as income on your '06 return.

I don't understand y'all... you live here and complain about how bad things are, roads, schools, etc. and yet when it comes to you actually doing something about it, i.e. paying a little tax, all you do is whine.

I like Portland, but I am sick and tired of all the NIMBYism.

Do they administer the funds in the most efficient manner? Not always, no. Do teachers receive a salary comparable to their jobs? No. Do the kids get a decent education? No. Do I like taxes? No.

But I also realize that one of many prices I pay for living in this country is to pay taxes. If you can think of a better way to assist the schools in being able to do what they need to do in order to teach your kids, then form a group and do something about it, pay the taxes, put something on a ballot… anything besides whining about how life is unfair and you have to pay something you don’t agree with.

In other words, get off your arse and do something instead of being an armchair politician!

I don't understand y'all... you live here and complain about how bad things are, roads, schools, etc. and yet when it comes to you actually doing something about it, i.e. paying a little tax, all you do is whine.

I like Portland, but I am sick and tired of all the NIMBYism.

Do they administer the funds in the most efficient manner? Not always, no. Do teachers receive a salary comparable to their jobs? No. Do the kids get a decent education? No. Do I like taxes? No.

But I also realize that one of many prices I pay for living in this country is to pay taxes. If you can think of a better way to assist the schools in being able to do what they need to do in order to teach your kids, then form a group and do something about it, pay the taxes, put something on a ballot… anything besides whining about how life is unfair and you have to pay something you don’t agree with.

In other words, get off your arse and do something instead of being an armchair politician!

Sorry for the double post - timeout error...

"Sorry for the double post - timeout error..."

Some things are well worth repeating.

Now, if someone would just post one of them.

Now, if someone would just post one of them.

Well, that was constructive... no wonder Portland is where it is now.

It's a matter of proactive reasoning vs. reactive reasoning. Do something about it or just complain about it.

Which side are you on?

I'm undeserving of the position of poster boy for "..(the way) Portland is now"

Lighten up, initial person, use a little proactive seasoning or something in that bile you must drink all day.

You run your life the way you want, and I'll do the same.

Simply because someone posts a rant, complains or whines here doesn't mean that's all they do. And even if it is, don't get so worked up about it that you get "...sick and tired...".

Sorry, I meant

I'm undeserving of the position of poster boy for "..(why) Portland is where it is now".

I don't remember giving you a recommendation. ;)

There will always be three types of people in any society.

Those who see something wrong and contribute,

Those who see something wrong and complain that someone else should fix it, and,

Those who don’t see anything at all.

TTF,

My point, and I'll make it again, is that people who bitch and moan may ALSO ACT. The two aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, sometimes the impetus to act comes from the realization that one is not alone. That realization might even come from reading, oh, THIS VERY BLOG!

Instead of making the unfounded assertion that all the "whiners" whose posts and comments you (apparently willingly) read here are inert gasbags, how about being proactive and providing some suggestions to help focus the outrage via involvement. Give us some strategies or outlines for successful public input. Tell us what's worked for you.

Use the force, Luke!

Sorry.

TTM,

Sorry again.

TTF comes from TTM + IPA (too much of the latter)

TTM, Sorry again. TTF comes from TTM + IPA (too much of the latter)

LOL - no worries.

Perhaps you are right that I am piling all of the whiners in the "watch but do not move" pile. History is full of those who see a problem, complain about it and then act... heck, we'd probably still be a Monarchy if it weren't for those who decided to do something instead of just complaining about it.

However, it is my experience that most of those who complain the loudest and most oft are usually not willing to get out and petition for anything else.

If you oppose the tax then good for you - but what do you have to suggest for the future maintenance of schools and the welfare of our children's scholastic wellbeing now that it is gone? Do you suggest a permanent sales tax? Perhaps a regional tax similar to the 1.9% that recently failed?

Or are you (collectively, not aimed specifically at any one person here) going to simply complain how the evil Government spends too much and doesn't really fix anything.

Granted, the Government can use some guidance, especially when it comes to spending. But we have to learn to chip in too.

I'd be all for a sales tax in Portland as long as the monies went towards schools, roads, and other public issues. As for an extension of the Pearl or a new set of Condos on the waterfront, I'd expect them to get separate funding for those projects.

But expectations have a habit of not being met where the Government is concerned...


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