Sunday, October 29, 2006

How to Do Your Taxes, in Ten Short Months

All dates are approximate. Please consult your tax professional for advice specific to your situation.

January 3 -- Now that Christmas is over, mentally move on to the next season -- tax season! Start watching contents of the mailbox with renewed interest.

January 12 -- Receive e-mail from HR reminding you that your organization switched payroll providers in 2005, thus you will receive two W-2s, one from each provider.

January 14 -- Receive first W-2, from old payroll provider. Dance around the house, singing "It's the most wonderful time of the year" because you love, love, love doing your taxes. Chastise self for being a big dork. Eagerly await the arrival of all other tax preparation materials. Take comfort in knowing they're due to you by February 1.

January 16 -- Check mailbox. Empty. Damn federal holiday.

January 18 -- Get e-mail from HR notifying you that the old payroll provider screwed up the W-2s and will be sending new ones shortly. Curse the old payroll provider.

January 20 -- Check mailbox. Empty.

January 21 -- Check mailbox. Empty. Jerks.

January 23 -- Check mailbox. Empty. Curse all payroll bastards everywhere.

January 24 to February 10 -- Receive requisite W-2s, bank statements, etc, including paperwork from your investment crap that you didn't know you'd need.

February 18 -- Receive incomprehensible letter from the IRS. Assume that if you were being audited, that little tidbit would've been clear from the letter. Right? RIGHT???

February 11 -- Debate doing your taxes the complicated way or the un-complicated way. Take a preliminary stab at doing things the un-complicated way.

February 20 -- Attempt to do your taxes. Notice you're missing a few pieces of information, but assume they're in the mail on their way to you. Practice being patient. (Ha. Ha ha.) Mock up your taxes the complicated way and the uncomplicated way. Discover, much to your surprise, that the complicated way is more lucrative, but requires even more information you don't have. Assume this info is also in transit.

March 22 -- Realize Tax Day is fast approaching and you haven't made any progress in a month. For the first time ever, break down and purchase TurboTax. Weep softly at the prospect of not using a #2 pencil and some notebook paper to prepare your taxes. Console self with the knowledge that $75 for computer software is a better investment than hiring a tax attorney when you are invariably audited.

March 23 -- Attempt to do your taxes. Realize you're missing crucial information from the state, and, no, it hasn't magically arrived in your mailbox yet.

March 23 to April 8 -- Think about how you should really call the state to get that information you need. Decide you'll do it tomorrow.

April 9 -- Finally call state government to request this information. Be dismayed when the customer service rep tells you she can drop it in the mail to you, but there's no way to e-mail or fax you the information. Begrudgingly accept mailed documents.

April 12 -- Resign self to the fact that you'll be filing for an extension. File nifty little federal extension form, as provided by TurboTax software. Praise the TurboTax geniuses. Have panic attack when it occurs to you that you'll need to file a state extension, as well. Does the state even permit extensions??? Where's the form for that? Realize state wants you to pay them NOW, despite the extension. Do some rudimentary calculations and send state $400 along with extension form.

April 21 -- Documents arrive. Hooray!

April 22 -- Attempt to do taxes. Realize you only have half the info from the state that you need. Curse the lady you spoke to on the phone, and yourself for not double-checking with her what info was being sent.

May 11 -- Call someone else at the state in search of your information. Be impressed that his voice mail says he'll get back to you within 24 hours.

May 12 -- No phone call. Well, ok, maybe Monday.

May 15 -- No phone call. Bastard.

May 16 to September 24 -- Proceed with crazy busy life, go on vacation, volunteer on a campaign, resume crazy busy life.

September 25 -- Have mild panic attack when you realize it's nearly October and can't remember if the extension allows you to file by October 1 or October 15. Decide it would behoove you to just get them done by the first.

September 26 -- Knowing this is your last opportunity to get those taxes done before you go out of town, strong-arm self into actually getting them done. "You are not getting up from this chair until your taxes are finished, young lady! Do you hear me?" Prepare taxes. Note that final figures look an awful lot like the mock-up you did in February. File taxes electronically, mostly. Praise the inventors of internet banking. Curse TurboTax when it tells you you'll have to log in within the next 24-48 hours to finish the final step required for electronic filing.

September 27 -- Leave town for a conference. While on lunch break, log in to TurboTax to complete final step.

September 28 to October 5 -- Check bank account compulsively to see if refund has been deposited yet. Sure, it took you nine months to actually file those tax forms, but that doesn't stop you from being hopelessly impatient.

October 6 -- Federal refund deposited. Give a little cheer. Then, immediately put the money to a ridiculously fiscally responsible use. When friend suggests you could spend half for fun and put half to responsible use, admit that option hadn't even occurred to you. Finally understand just how disturbed you are.

October 10 -- State refund deposited. Cringe at the fact that half of the refund was the $400 you sent them back in April. Transfer funds back to savings, from whence they came.

October 15 -- Realize next year's taxes are due in only six more months!


At Mon Oct 30, 09:25:00 AM PST, Anonymous lisa said...

Last year Liberty Tax Service had a promotion where they would prepare taxes free for teachers. Now if only a different tax company would offer that every year... I'd hate to have to PAY someone to tell me that I owe the federal government $11. And of course I'd hate to do them myself since I am lazy, although here in the great state of Texas we don't even HAVE state income taxes!

At Mon Oct 30, 10:52:00 PM PST, Anonymous Horrible Warning said...

Are you offering your services?

I do mine on time and everything, but it sounds like you find the lucrative way to file. And I? Don't.

At Tue Oct 31, 07:50:00 AM PST, Anonymous Superfantastic said...

This only confirms what I have long suspected - that you are sick woman in need of serious help. Most wonderful time of the year? That is JUST NOT RIGHT.


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