Progress Not Perfection

As I approach four years of recovery in DA H.O.W., I am stunned at how much vagueness I still experience … and grateful that I have a program that helps me continue to grow.

Here’s what happened. I just completed my 2012 taxes using TurboTax, a fantastic automated program. I can’t say enough about how easy it makes doing my taxes.

Still, there is plenty of room for operator error, as I just discovered.

My son started college in 2009, the year I came into DA H.O.W.. But I never took the deductions for his tuition and the first year, never even took an education credit. I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the time.

This year, when TurboTax asked if I had a 1098-T, I decided to look for it.

It turns out that the university doesn’t send out the tax form, but has it available electronically. Maybe they emailed it to my son, but I never got it.

For 2012, we will get a refund of over $2,000 because of the education credits.

My husband urged me to amend the previous returns. I dreaded the prospect of trying to unravel it all, but my sponsor also nudged me to take the next right action.

It turns out that amended returns for 2009 must be completed by April 15th or they will not be accepted. Through a painstaking process, redoing it six times, and researching the IRS and state guidelines for scholarships and my prepaid tuition money, I learned what I needed to know. And the 2009 refund will be nearly $2,000.

The total refund for the four years will be over $6,500! (Assuming no additional errors, of course.)

The Real Miracle

But here is the real miracle in all of this. It has been my wish to pay for my son’s college, but because of becoming disabled, he had to get loans for his third and fourth years.

Since I paid cash for years one and two, had we gotten these refunds back then, we surely would have spent them, not knowing what was to come!

Even so, my PRG team doesn’t want to make any decisions about this money until it is in my bank account. We don’t spend money we don’t have. And it is possible that they may not feel that using this money toward these loans is the wisest choice depending on my life situation at the time.

Three Lessons

This was a clear lesson in humility. Yes, I am in recovery for today, but that doesn’t mean cured and it doesn’t mean omniscient.

It was a lesson about changing the things I can. Getting out of vagueness sometimes takes effort and diligent persistence. It is far easier for my lazy addict mind to convince me that “it’s too much trouble,” so I might as well just stay in the comfort of ignorance.

This was a lesson in clarity being revealed to me when the time was right. Instead of beating myself up for not knowing what I didn’t know, I can be grateful that I learned what I needed to learn when I needed to learn it.

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