Monday, June 22, 2015

Sleep On It - Tip For Making Wise Decisions

Any time you are thinking about making a decision that may have any significant impact on yourself or others, it is always a good idea to "sleep on it" or wait on your decision until the next day. This is a good idea in most cases because it gives you a little time to process it and makes sure you do not make an impulsive decision.

Often when you are in the moment, you may feel very strongly about something and you feel very passionate about it and want to go through with it right away. While this is ok and you may be able to get some good ideas together, you may end up making a rash decision that you will regret later.

A good example is if you are going to send an important email to someone. It might be for work or personal and you might have a strong opinion on something that you want to express to another person. Often a message like this can cause issues between people especially if they have a different opinion.

If you hold off on sending it and wait until the next day, often you will find the next day you feel differently and might not even want to send the message anymore. The next day, you will be in a fresh state of mind and will not be caught up in the heat of things so you are able to take more of an outsiders perspective and make a better decision.

Of course there are times when even after you sleep on something, you still feel the same way the next day. In this case, it reinforces your decision or thoughts so you know you are on the right track and not just making an impulsive decision.

Next time you are thinking about doing something spur of the moment that may have a big effect on yourself or someone else, be sure to give it a little time to make sure it is the right decision.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Estimated Taxes and Penalty Fees - Quarterly Payments on Income Taxes

I am very good about income taxes and each year I file my taxes well before the deadline. Usually it is a long process but you just have to take it step by step and make sure everything is correct and complete. Over the years I have never had any issues, except for recently when I received a notice for a Late Estimated Payment Penalty.

When I saw this, I was confused and figured it must be an error because I know I filled the taxes well before the deadline. So I called them up and talked with one of the reps who checked on it. She explained that since I had owed over $500 on the previous years taxes, that I was expected to pay the income tax in quarterly payments throughout the year.

This was the first I had heard about this. Up until this point, I had never been in the situation that required taxes to be paid ahead of time throughout the year. I learned that if you are self employed and do not have taxes withheld during the year by an employer, you are required to pay the estimated amount 4 times throughout the year.

The rep recommended that I write to the Department of Revenue to ask for an elimination of the penalty due to the fact that I had no idea about this policy until I received the notice of late penalty. So I wrote to them and sent in the payment just in case they would not excuse it. I am currently waiting to see what happens and will update this entry with the results.

I don't mind paying the estimated income tax payments throughout the year, but I think they need to make it more clear or let you know ahead of time if you are required to do this rather than sending you a late fee 6 months later. I also wonder why they expect people to submit payment 4 times a year, but they only give refunds once a year. It does not seem fair in this case.

Anyway so I took the time to set up the online payments for state as well as federal income tax. It definitely took some research just to figure out how to set it up to make the payments. I got the state set up and enrolled for the federal which takes longer to verify.

It is more inconvenient now to have to keep track of 8 extra payments throughout the year but at least when the April tax date comes around things should be pretty even with the estimated payments already submitted.

Anyone else get this Late Estimated Payment Fee unexpectedly? Should people who are self employed have to pay income taxed throughout the year? Feel free to share any comments below.

Update 6-22-15: So they didn't waste any time cashing the check I sent them in case they would not excuse the late penalty.  I'm not too pleased about that. Hopefully they at least respond to the letter and give an explanation as why it was not excused. 

Update 8-30-15:  Unexpectedly today I checked the mail and there was a letter with a refund for the amount I paid for the late fee penalty. I thought I was out of luck because they had cashed the check already but I guess it was delayed and they reviewed the situation and agreed to refund the fee!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Be Careful With Internet Jobs and Start Up Companies

A few years back I found a website where you could earn money by answering questions. People would post questions and assign a dollar amount to them. Then others would submit answers and the person who gave the best answer would be awarded the money for that question. It was a fun way to earn a little money online.

Shortly after, the site began to develop another completely different idea which was basically a Wikipedia but with more images, videos, links etc. To develop this site, they asked the community to write articles and put together content for it. They picked out the popular subjects and paid people to write up articles for these topics. Users would be paid a fixed amount to write the page and then they would earn a percentage of the ad income generated from that page as long as they were the manager of that page and kept it in good shape.

Quickly everyone figured out which kind of pages made the most money and everyone scrambled to pick them up and claim them as their own. I was in on this whole project early on so I was able to get many good pages and continue to accumulate high earning pages.

Within about a year I was making some good money and it was pretty much passive income because once you had the pages, there was not much you had to do to keep them updated. The community was thriving and everyone was seeing a lot of earnings.

Then after about a year, we got some bad news. The company decided they were going to stop paying the percentage of the earnings to the people who wrote and managed the pages. This was very controversial because in the contract it was explained that once you wrote a page and managed it, you would be given a percentage of the earnings throughout the lifetime of that page.

So all of us who had written these pages expecting continued income were completely thrown for a loop. We went from making a lot of passive income each month to making nothing. The company said they were going to discontinue the profit sharing model and instead pay an up front flat fee for articles written. That would have been ok if they honored the previous agreement up to that point but they did not.

This caused an uproar and most people who were loyal to the website picked up and left. There was even a pending lawsuit in the works for how the site did not honor the agreement it said it would for the writers but ultimately nothing materialized out of it.

Shortly after that, Google made some big changes to their search engine to try to weed out sites which were kind of spammy which the site had kind of become with articles that were just written in order to make money from ads. The site took a big hit from this and their page rankings dropped as a result.

I moved onto another writing website which was ok for a while but nowhere near as good. It is a shame things did not work out, but this is a common occurrence with internet companies when money is involved. Circumstances can change overnight so you have to be careful not to get too invested in just one project or company.