My thoughts

Happy New Year!
January 10, 2008, 3:37 am
Filed under: Beginner

On January 31st, we celebrate the new year by going out and partying. Some people go to house parties, some go to a bar, and some just celebrate on the street. Many cities have fireworks when the clock strikes midnight. Some people also pay to go large, organized parties usually held in clubs. You usually have to pay a large price for the ticket or cover charge, and in my experience you get little in return. It is usually very crowded and you ended up spending lots of money on drinks, very few of these places give you anything but a hat. It is common for people to wear a New Year’s hat, usually a colorful and sparkly hat made from cardboard with “2008” written on it.

On January 1st, it is customary to sleep in late due to a hangover from drinking the night before. Some people go shopping, although the after-Christmas sales actually start December 26th. January 1st also means that Christmas is over, so people start taking down their holiday decorations, lights, and tree. There are some organizations that have a service where they will take your tree and recycle it, otherwise it is collected by the garbage man. The garbage day after January 1st is a heavy one, due to all the wrapping paper, boxes, packing materials, and holiday decorations that are thrown away.

I suppose I should explain about our garbage system, as it is different from other countries. Once a week, the garbage is collected. You have to pull your garbage can to the curb before they garbage truck comes, which is usually early in the morning. Many cities also provide a larger container for recycling, which you must also pull to the curb. About once a month, the yard waste is also collected. In Seattle, recycling is collected every other week, on the same day as the garbage. We have a new law that says if your garbage has a large portion of things that could have been recycled, they can charge you a fine. Some places do not have a recycling program, and people have to take their recycling to a recycling center, but this is mainly in the country. However, if you live in an apartment building, you put your garbage and recycling into large dumpsters, which are emptied about once a month.

Last week, the garbage men were very busy as their work was delayed by one day and most people had a lot of garbage!

The beginning of the new year also means work for some companies and departments of companies. It is the beginning of tax season, and companies must start to prepare the forms they must send to their employees and vendors to report their income. Employees receive a from called a W-2, which reports all the money they were paid in the year, and how many taxes were withheld from their pay. Vendors receive a 1099 for all the money they were paid over $400. Companies must send a copy of the W-2s and 1099s to the employees and vendors by February, and they must also send this information to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) by March. Some people pay an accountant or tax service such as H&R Block to do their taxes, but recently many people do it themselves with a program called Turbotax. Turbotax is very easy to use, and you can even submit your taxes electronically to the IRS. Some banks even offer a version of it on their website. However, companies must use a certified accountant as their taxes can be quite complex. Some people have to pay additional tax, and others get a refund. It usually takes a few weeks to a month to get the refund, and some tax services advertise a faster refund or that they can get you a bigger one. Some companies also market products or services that you can buy with your refund from about February. All taxes must be sent to the IRS in April, or there is a big fee to pay!