I'm poor!

I had to clean out my checking account to pay my taxes today. And now I don’t have any money to buy groceries.

I’m trying not to get depressed, but tears are filling my eyes as I type this. I’ve never been this broke in my whole life. What am I going to do?

I’m very tempted to say “fuck it” and not send in my paperwork, which is still sitting on my desk in a proscratinating pile. Or maybe I can lie and report fewer earnings than I actually received. But chances are I’d get audited. And even if I wasn’t, I’d be burning with guilt.
At least I’m blessed enough to have a job. Many people don’t have that this year and they still have to pay. So maybe I should cheer up, right? Maybe I should accept my poverty as a symbol of my patriotism and good citizenship and be happy.

I think everyone who pays taxes should be eligible for food stamps. Or maybe the Feds should send us big hunks of government cheese and Wonderbread right after they process our tax forms. That way, people have an incentive to turn in their shit on time AND they don’t have to worry about starving. I could really go for a couple of cheese sandwiches right now.

It’s not legal, but you could hold back a few bucks this week to buy groceries and send it to them next paycheck. But don’t hold back the return. And don’t wait any longer than next paycheck to pay up. You probably won’t get in trouble.

And you didn’t hear it from me.

BTW, I’m very sorry to hear about your situation. I’ve been there myself, years ago.

How can your taxes be so high AND not leave you enough to live on?


Or are we speaking property taxes?

You can file and apply to set up an installment plan. You’ll pay interest, but you’ll eat. And it’s legal.

If its just a matter of not having enough money on hand until next payday, use a credit card until you get paid. You can also do the installment plan… Just pay off 80% of what you owe in one chunk and pay the rest off after a pay day or two (basically pay enough off so you aren’t getting much interest)

Sounds like you may want to go to HR and fill out a new W-4, so this doesn’t happen again next year.

You can file for an extension, too. You will have to pay interest on what you owe, but it would be better than starving.

Go here for more info.


I live on a graduate fellowship. For some bizarre reason, no taxes are taken out of the checks I receive, so I always end up having to pay a ton of money in April.

I guess theoretically, me paying a huge lump sum is no different than having the taxes witheld from each check, but in practice, there IS a difference. When they withold your taxes, you don’t ever see that money. So it’s like it doesn’t exist to you and if you’re lucky, you get some back, like a little surprise. Yippee. But it ain’t like that when you actually have to pay each year. It’s like one moment you’re not-so-broke and then the next moment, you’re singing the theme from Good Times and digging in the carpet for loose change.

It’s not like I spent up all the money and now I’m claiming poverty (though this year did have some added expenditures). But it does make my cheeks burn with fear when I see that I only have ten dollars in my checking account. Pay day can’t come soon enough!

Hopefully next year will be better.

You must be one of those rich taxpayers we keep hearing about. One of those that isn’t willing to pay their fair share. Ok, sorry bout the sarcasm. You don’t mention any specific numbers, but if you are owing more than a couple percent of your annual pay, you aren’t having enough withheld. I too wrote a big check today, but I knew it was coming, and I made a mental note to set aside each month enough to cover the bill (beats giving the govt a free loan).
It is probably too late for this year because you don’t have enough time, but next year make sure you take advantage of all the deductions that the govt allows you. I saved a ton just off the clothes we donated to goodwill. I have always undervalued them. I have made jokes about the Clintons and how Hillary valued their clothes at such a high rate when she donated them. But now I grudgingly have to admit she was right. I bought a software that uses the IRS’s guidelines to assign a dollar value to charitable donations. Their value was WAY higher than I expected, and the company offers to back you up and pay your fines if you get your deductions disallowed.
Also if you are a property owner make sure you deduct all your property taxes, interest expenses, and the like.
If you are in a bind financially you can file an extension. You will pay more later (in interest) but at least you wont eat out of the dumpster like those other rich taxpayers are. You can also pay some now and the rest later, as others suggested.

I do have to chastise you though for not knowing until the last day what you owe. You have had almost 3 months since all your financial statements regarding taxes had to be sent to you. You should have known that you would be owing and could have saved some each paycheck.

What you need to do:

  1. Get with your HR people to determine what you should be paying in taxes. The way the IRS deductions are set up, if you take the standard deduction levels you either pay way too much or way too little. This is how the govt gets people to give it free loans. Take the amount that you owe for 2001 over what you paid in deductions, and have an additional amount (assuming you will make the same amount this year) deducted from each paycheck to make the amount approximately correct. For instance, my deduction is 2 plus $100.
  2. Start learning now how to reduce your tax burden. There are lots of deductions available to you. Learn about them. Look at a standard 1040’s itemized deductions page (Schedule A). Look into each of the sections to see if you qualify for any of them. If you do, look into filing an amended return for 2001 and maybe you can get some bucks back. I don’t know if you can, but maybe. One thing I havent used, but will in the future, is the medical account savings thingie. Since I don’t get sick I didn’t think it was worth it. However it can be used for prescriptions, and all your basic medical expenses. Basically it sets aside money tax free to pay for your medical expenses. However if you dont use it, you lose it. Just put aside what you know you will spend. For me, its mine and my wife’s prescriptions plus our annual doctor and dentist visits. Just by deducting the bare minimum like this i’ll reduce our taxable income by about $1000. That is $300 I don’t pay in taxes. If you try to deduct it from your regular taxes, the amount has to be in excess of something like 7.5% of your gross adjusted income.

Hope this helps, and plan better for next time! I think we all do that at least once, reduce our withholding then shit a brick when the bill comes due. Last year I owed almost $3000. I kept this year under $500.

Thanks for the advice, everyone.

I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination. The last time I checked, I get paid just a little more than minimum wage. And I don’t have any property or anything special deductions. I’m just a selfish person who doesn’t like to pay taxes. I just needed to rant before I went to the post office. Thanks for listening.


Poor monstro.

Listen, you know, they have food banks for people on tough times - I know ours regularly has to dispose of food because there aren’t enough takers (though I’m sure that’s not the case everywhere) and there’s no shame in getting a little help and eating ramen for a while!

The same thing happened to me last year, I had to go for payment installations because I owed over a full month’s pay. Lucky I was still living at home and was able to default on my rent payments for a while (thanks mom)

Don’t worry, you’ll make it thru :slight_smile:

This doesn’t help you now, but for next year, I’d advise starting a savings account and setting money aside for taxes, since they’re not withholding from your paychecks. That way, it’s not in your checking account and thus liable to get spent, and you don’t have to go through this again. Besides, you might earn a dollar or two of interest!

I suggested doing something illegal, and I just wanted to clarify that it is possible to get an installment plan legally. I was just thinking that doing it illegally might be easier because it is, after all, the 15th and there isn’t much time to fill out the proper paperwork. Getting the actual return in on time seems to be the most important thing.

Yeah, been there. Let me guess: your fellowship comes from some kind of government agency rather than directly from your school?

Once upon a time when I had an NSERC grant (which is an academic grant from the Canadian government) I ended up in the same boat. Since the money didn’t come from the school I never even got a chance to ask to have taxes deducted automatically. That was a major ouchie at tax time. You have my sympathies…

You have my sympathy, monstro. Quite a few years back, my family of three survived on a government fellowship of $200 per month.

Luckily (as it turned out) I never finished a dissertation for the math Ph.D. Instead I became an actuary, which was technically less demanding and financially more rewarding. You might want to consider investigating that possibility.

monstro, I fell your pain. I was hit with an unexpected $6k tax bill one year (changed brackets unawares). Youch! I did the installments, and the interest rate is nearly nothing. If you already sent the check, you can still call in and plead your case, the IRS is pretty cool on THESE points. Call today, and they would have a record of your request for an installment. A charge by the bank to cancel the check is cheaper than the amount of the check, I’d wager. Pay it in under a year, because you cannot have two installments at once.

Here’s the form:

Cool advice, UncleBill.

Good luck, monstro.

I feel for you. Poverty sucks.

Which will then, of course, be taxed.

I’m pissed off this year because I technically have my own business, which doesn’t make any money, but leaves me ineligible to deduct private health insurance. Apparently the IRS thinks I don’t need health insurance when I’m living on savings, credit cards, and (unbenefitted) temp work - just when my “business” is making money. And I have to have the “business”, because it’s the only way to legally report the tiny amount of income I receive from my extracurricular activities - webpages for friends, do-at-home word processing jobs, music gigs, etc. It all falls under the heading of “Consulting Services” and the worse I do at it, the worse tax hit I get.

And another thing … oh, hell, never mind. Carry on.