Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A slice of this American life.

So I have been working since I was 15. That's 13 years of solid work, with nothing but a little time off here and there for travel, and a sum total of probably 3 months when I was out of work by choice, playing a bit between jobs.

I've worked full time, part time, 1099, W2, under the table, you name it. I've held up to three paying jobs at once. Did you know that that top line on your income taxes, Gross Income, is not the same as Adjusted Gross Income?

You probably DO know this.

From your Gross Income, you take out things like 401(k) contributions and any of your bulk health care costs, maybe what you're putting into a traditional IRA. Then you end up with your Adjusted Gross Income, from which you pay taxes.

My Gross Income and Adjusted Gross Income have always been identical, and you know why? I've never had benefits. Not one. Not one paid vacation afternoon, not a single sick day where I didn't lose money because I couldn't work, not a dime into retirement savings* and don't make me chuckle with thoughts of someone other than me paying for health insurance. How weird is that?! I didn't know there WAS a difference between GI and AGI. I don't know what all that says about my working history, my understanding of taxes or the earning power of a Bachelor's degree in today's economy, but it must say something.

In the meantime, yes I have health insurance and the "*" above means that I put some benjamins into a Roth IRA, so I pay my taxes on this end instead of the retirement end.

But I was sighing and laughing last night when taxes were being kindly explained to me by my husband, which prompted me to exclaim, "It must be so expensive to run a small business!" He laughed. I hope you do, too.

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