Ask Jack: Doing Half-Best, Self-Employed Taxes, Job of the Week

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AOL Jobs reader Mitchell tells us...

My boss just told me he wants me to do a "halfway decent job, maybe even a good job" on my next project. Way to go, setting the bar nice and low. Mediocre, comin' right up! How should I respond?

Why am I suddenly reminded of those commercials about half-fast internet speeds? Anyway, I'd guess this either has a lot more to do with your boss himself or with a particular client, rather than being directed at you specifically. Instead of trying to knock it out of the park on every project, some bosses are solely focused on those old standbys, time and money. And smaller clients are often deemed unworthy of either commodity.

So what can you do as a caring cog in the corporate machinery? Turn in sub-par stuff? I wouldn't recommend it; you have your own reputation to protect. That being said, definitely keep the boss's comments in mind on this and future projects: Meet that deadline, and if you have any control over the project's budget, do not overspend. Then he'll have nothing to gripe about, and you'll have the satisfaction of producing quality work. And everybody will be happy and smiling at the workplace from now on, and monkeys will emerge from my trousers, wings a-flapping.

Judy asks:

I just started working for myself last year. So far so good but I have a question. I did a small job in December, but I didn't receive the check until this month. For which year do I put this income on my taxes, 2014 or 2015?

Can I first get a round of applause for a self-employed person who wants to be honest with their taxes? A grateful nation salutes. Now, the IRS is very clear on this topic, but it depends if you are filing with what's known as the cash method or the accrual method. According to the IRS, with the cash method, "include in your gross income all items of income you actually or constructively receive [during] your tax year." So in your case, Judy, you'd report this income in 2015. In the accrual method, on the other hand, you report income when you earn it, not when you receive it. Both ways are valid for self-employed people who provide services rather than products, but you'll likely want to discuss this with a tax professional. Because if I say any more, I'll be talking out of that same place from where the monkeys flew in the previous question.

Last week's Ask Jack questions

Do you have a work-related question for Jack? Write it in the comments below (better answers to this week's questions are also welcome!) or tweet it @AOLJobs with the hashtag #AskJack.

Jack's Job of the Week

Maybe you read that last question and thought, "Wait a minute, I'M a tax professional and I need a job!" Well, I just happen to have one for you: seasonal tax preparer with Liberty Tax locations all over the country. Their mission is "Set the Standard, Improve Each Day, Have Some Fun!" and that sounds pretty good to me. If tax preparation and fun isn't your mission, do your own search on AOL Jobs. You'll likely find a job that isn't too taxing.

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