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Archive for August, 2018

property taxes snafu

August 10th, 2018 at 10:23 am

My town's property taxes are due once a year on October 1. Each year since buying my house in 2004, I have received property tax assistance from my state. At first, I would receive a check for the state's contribution in mid-July and then I would pay my full tax bill by October 1. Finally, the state wised up and started sending the assistance checks directly to town treasurers. I imagine a portion of taxpayers would get their check, spend it immediately on other things and then end up delinquent with their property taxes.

So, now I get a letter in July which outlines my total property taxes, how much the state will kick in, and how much I will ultimately owe out of pocket in early October. This year, my letter contained no state amount. I was shocked – had I suddenly reached a salary limit? I checked the state's website and learned that a large portion of the property tax assistance forms had not been processed in time this year. So, I assumed that I was part of that group and I waited, but then I decided to check into it just to be sure. I called my town's treasurer and the state tax department and found out that my electronic filing wasn't correct and that my property tax assistance form was never received! Apparently, I wasn't the only one dealing with this scenario. There seems to have been a slight glitch in turbot@x and some of the forms did not get filled out and filed correctly. Since it has worked fine for the past 14 years, I didn't notice that there was a problem this year.

Phew, I am so glad that I decided to be proactive. I was able to fill out and submit the missing form through the state's website. I will be charged a $15 late filing fee, which I don't like, but I guess I can live with! I may have to pay my full property tax bill up front and get reimbursed from my town if they receive my assistance payment after October 1. The tax payments are paid to the towns once a month.

For 2017, my total property tax bill was $3895.70 and my state assistance was $2008, so I owed $1887 out of pocket. This year my bill is $3765.23 and I do not want to miss out on almost $2000! I'm going to call the tax office in a week or so and see where things stand with my form. I want to make sure that the information was submitted correctly and that I will be receiving the assistance. Can't leave anything to chance!

Gorgeous day – the humidity of the past week has finally lifted and it is sunny, warm and breezy. Smile

already august

August 1st, 2018 at 11:49 am

I feel like I'm slogging through my days – I don't like uncertainty or change!

I just took a little vacation to the Finger Lakes to visit P, an old friend from college. P lives in CA and stays with her parents at their lake house for a portion of the summer. It's a beautiful spot! I drove there Thursday and returned on Monday afternoon. It was a very low key visit. P had a large brain tumor removed three years ago and is still learning to deal with the physical changes that the operation created. She had a stroke that affected her right side, so she can’t write very well and her speech will always be halted as she searches for words (aphasia). Unfortunately, she is not facing her challenges head on and making the best of the situation. Instead, she has kind of given up and lives a pretty limited life, in my opinion. No judgement – it's her choice, but it's kind of sad to see. I can understand, though, since I deal with depression and live a fairly limited life, too!

Anyway, while there I took a few good walks to get some exercise, spent almost no money, went for a boat ride with P and her dad and was able to jump off and swim in the middle of the lake, hung out with P, caught up and laughed about old college memories, and just generally enjoyed the peaceful lake scenery. It was a nice trip and I really liked being away from the stress of my current job situation.

Oh, I also have recently taken up bird watching as something interesting and fun to focus on – keeps my brain and eyes active! I've been paying closer attention to bird songs and calls when I walk and I saw lots of beautiful birds while in the Finger Lakes region. P's parents have a few bird feeders and it was fun to research and start identifying the various birds I saw. I've always enjoyed observing birds, but now I want to know a little more about them and at least be able to identify more than just blue jays, robins, crows, seagulls and cardinals! Right now I am using old binoculars that I got free at some point and bird books that I borrowed from the library, so it's a cheap hobby so far. Smile

I used 3/4 of a tank of gas for the drive there and then again on the drive back. I also bought some junk food on the ride out of sheer boredom and seemly unmanageable cravings! I took food with me for most of my own meals, P's mom made dinner twice, and P treated me to a very casual dinner and ice cream one evening. I tried to pay, but she wouldn't accept my offer.

I just found a few receipts in my purse. Some recent spending from mid-July and later:
$103.08 – groceries (including assorted junk food items) bought since July 18
$6.38 – paper towels
$31.00 – six-month post office box renewal
$5.00 – garbage disposal for four weeks

Trip costs
$23.81 – gas fill up before trip
$36.20 – gas fill up for drive home
$13.80 – roundtrip tolls
$18.45 – road junk food (fast food milkshakes and fries, soft serve ice cream close to home) ugh

$92.96 – total - not bad for a four-night lake vacation! Would have been less than $75 if I could have resisted the siren song of junk food on the road. Next time I need to just buy some “healthy” snacks for a drive. I had packed a salad for lunch, but apparently that wasn’t going to cut it!

$36.00 – oops, forgot about my cat sitter cost – 3 days x $12, so the trip cost $128.96 total

I am settling back in at home and work. I spent last evening at a local friend's lake house (I'm lucky that I know a lot of people who have waterside vacation homes) with a group of friends. For our potluck I chopped some local veggies from my fridge and served them with hummus and red grapes that I also had on hand. I was very happy not to spend money on that food. I also made my lunches for yesterday and today with food in my fridge. I will do the same for Thursday and Friday.

I'm feeling very anxious and am having trouble focusing at work, but I should get back to it now that my lunch break is over. Baby steps!