Thursday, February 14, 2013
Ask An Election Nerd: Taxes
Hey Nancy so this is my first time filing taxes after being a field organizer. What's the deal with deductions and all that stuff?
Wonderful question! Sadly, I have no idea. I put this question out to my tumblr audience and received the response below. I don't know the person who responded so please bear that in mind taking his/her advice. That said, thank you so much anonymous tax knight in shining armour!
Taxes. I’m not a tax attorney, but I do handle taxes as a legislative issue on the Hill. Sooooo … I probably don’t know what I’m talking about. :)
For your campaigner asking for help with campaign related expenses, first off, I’m assuming they were paid as an employee, not an independent contractor. I hate hate hate campaigns that pay people as contractors. It makes paying taxes hell for young campaigners. Oh, and it’s what Republicans do.
You can deduct Employee Business Expenses (mileage) AND Moving Expenses, but this would be an Itemized Deduction. Most people just take the Standard Deduction ($5,950 for a single taxpayer). In its infinite wisdom, our government has decided that Itemized Deductions are hella confusing, so they just hand out a standard deduction that says “We’re sure you did some shit that earned this, we trust you.”
So it doesn’t make sense to take the Itemized Deduction UNLESS your cost of moving PLUS the mileage are more than the Standard Deduction. You can also itemize a lot of other things, like medical expenses, state and local taxes, mortgage payments, etc. Hopefully you didn’t get medical expenses on the campaign, but those dog bites can happen.
At the IRS’s reimbursement rate of 55.5 Cents Per Mile for driving, and 23 Cents Per Mile for moving, let’s say you moved from DC to Jackson, Mississippi (Hey, I did once) for a total of 978 miles (ish). That’s $224.94. You’d have to have driven around 10,409 miles on the campaign in order to have a reason to itemize the deduction instead of taking a standard deduction. That’s a lot of driving. And that’s for the campaign. That’s not going from your apartment to the office. That’s going from one field office to another field office, or to an event, and back again. Or driving beloved yard signs to a county party in the middle of no where …
Hope this helps!