Wednesday, March 19, 2008


It's a good thing I'm in good hands with Allstate because they have reached deep into my pants to keep a firm grip on my wallet.

My latest insurance bill included a $4.72 charge for the "01/07 Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Emergency Assessment," whatever that is. So I pay almost $5 extra bucks to subsidize Allstate when it no longer writes homeowners policies in the state.

Oh, I forgot to mention: This bill was for my car insurance.

Thanks Allstate!

More financial fun came when I examined my paycheck today. I had noticed earlier that my pay had increased since the start of the year even though I have to pay more for my health insurance. I haven't been scheduled for a raise, either, so the apparent increase baffled me but who am I to look a gift check in the mouth?

Today I finally did and discovered that the extra money should be going to the IRS instead. In late December I filled out a new W-4 intending to get more money withheld from my check. People for whom I freelance don't deduct taxes so I end up vastly underpaying during the year and owing a lot at tax time. That would be OK if it weren't for the penalty Uncle Sam tacks on. Never mind that I'm ready and able to render unto Caesar and all that; it appears that the emporer wants to collect interest during the year, too.

I solved this by declaring zero allowances on my W-4 and asking that $10 more be withheld from each paycheck at my regular job. That's still not enough to keep me from owing taxes next April but I hoped it would be enough to avoid a penalty for underpayment.

Did I say I solved the problem? Silly me. What I meant to say was that someone in my company's payroll department botched the paperwork so that instead of zero exemptions plus $10 extra, my pay stub shows that I have declared 10 exemptions!

Through the first two-and-a-half months of this year, my company has withheld exactly $3.63 in federal taxes from my paycheck. I am so hosed.

Thanks Payroll!

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