Negative Tax Rate

I’ve just about got our taxes completed for the year – we expect a huge refund because we have a tax credit that is 30% of the geothermal installation cost (the credit that made our geothermal system cost almost exactly as much as a far less efficient air exchange heat pump). What I didn’t expect was to receive a federal tax refund that exceeds our federal tax payments.

But the child tax credit is refundable – so we have a carry over for next year from the geothermal system and get a thousand bucks for having a kid. At which point, it occurred to me what Trump may be hiding in his tax returns. Not that he pays 0$ in federal taxes (yeah, I paid a whole heap of money to the state, medicare, social security, sales tax, and property tax too … doesn’t change the fact the federal government is literally giving me more money that I paid them this year) but that he finagles his adjusted income to be sufficiently low to qualify for refundable tax credits.

People get outraged when wealthy people pay a lower tax rate than the poor. Even more so when wealthy people literally pay less in taxes. But to have the federal government giving a fairly affluent individual a couple of grand extra … that would be shockingly egregious.

Personally … I didn’t try to get the money beyond including the energy efficiency tax credit in my pricing of geothermal and solar systems. I put all of my info into a tax preparation application and got an answer back. It took me a day to realize that that answer actually exceeded my payments (and that the changes I was trying to model for additional HSA contributions didn’t seem to change our refund any because our refund was maxed out and what was changing was the carry forward on form 5695. I’m also not turning it down. We have paid tens of thousands of dollars in federal taxes each year for decades – I’ll consider it getting an extra grand back from last year.

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