Sunday March 21, 2004

Tax Time

It's that time of year. The days are getting longer and warmer (although some localities still have snow on the ground!) Still, in many places, the trees are budding, the grass is greening, the birds are singing. All across America, papers are being collected, pencils are being sharpened, and from many homes you hear the weeping, wailing and, most of all, groans... it's Tax Time.

i'm doing my taxes this weekend. could it be possible to say that that's what inspired me for this week's wL? haha, but it has.

  • yay or nay for math?

  • who gets your taxes done?

  • have you ever *gasp* cheated?

  • do you usually make plans for your refund or do you save it?
[ questions courtesy of the weeklyLeak ]
I have never liked doing my taxes (Duh). It's not "just" the fact that the government takes so much money every year; they take most of it during the course of the year anyway. It's the forms.

Subtract the lesser of lines 65 and 57 from line 16.
If the result is more than 20% of line 32, enter it on line 5.
Otherwise...

ARRRGGGHHHH!

One year, many years ago now, I discovered MacInTax. It's a truly delightful program. It has saved me hours of agony, frustration, tears, and emotional upset. Now renamed TurboTax (and owned by Intuit, makers of Quicken and QuickBooks), TurboTax is the Number One home/online tax preparation program.

We spring for the TurboTax Premier Home and Business version, with "all the power of Premier and ... extra guidance for the self employed". It's worth every penny. I'm even willing (and able!) to do Rich's taxes as well as my own!

I can't say I enjoy doing my taxes every year; that wouldn't be true. I still put it off as long as possible, although some of that isn't entirely my fault; we usually don;t have all of the supporting paperwork until the end of February.

But the tax preparation process is no longer tedious, scary, arduous, painful, frustrating, or even hateful. TurboTax asks me questions, guides me through the process, even makes suggestions, e.g. "This isn't a common item but if you aren't sure, click Yes and we'll guide you."

As I said, it's worth every penny. Even better, the price hasn't gone up in several years, the first State is free, and there's a rebate on e-filing your Federal taxes.

E-filing! That's almost as wonderful as using TurboTax! Both the IRS and the California Tax Board accept electronically filed returns (and have done so for several years now). No more thick envelopes! No more lines! No more extra postage, Return Receipt Requested, or Certified Mail! I'm even notified by email when the taxing authorities have accepted my return.

It's almost enough to make me enjoy tax time. Almost. I'm not quite off the deep end. But if only two things are sure in life (death and taxes), at least one is a lot less painful that it used to be.

Getting back to this week's meme questions from the weeklyLeak:

  • yay or nay for math?

    Math was never my favorite subject in school, although things improved dramatically after 8th grade. In our school system, the more math-savvy kids took Algebra I in 8th grade; the others took an additional year of "Math". Although I was one of the smart kids, my math skills were behind. That extra year of "Math" was just what I needed. It opened everything up for me. After that, math homework wasn't a cause for tears anymore. (Except later, around tax time. But I don't have that problem anymore, either.)

  • who gets your taxes done?

    Amazingly, I get my taxes done. For the past several years, I have done Rich's taxes too. I keep trying to tell him that this program is so easy even he could use it (he's paperwork-phobic and form-challenged) but he doesn't believe me.

  • have you ever *gasp* cheated? If I had, do you think I would tell you?! But the answer is no, I haven't. I'm in too much fear of the IRS. It would be like cheating the Mob! (I've read the books; I've seen the movies; I know that's a bad idea.)

  • do you usually make plans for your refund or do you save it? The only plans I make for any refund I might get are to put it into the bank. With e-filing, you even get to choose auto-deposit. Is that cool or what?

    This year, I'm happy to say, I got everything back. Of course, I only worked 5 weeks last year, not including getting unemployment, but the Feds, in their infinite stupidity, withhold taxes from unemployment payments. So I didn't get much back, but I didn't pay any taxes on my unemployment insurance, and every little bit helps.

If you haven't done your taxes yet, consider TurboTax this year (available in three versions each for Mac OS or Windoze). However you get your taxes done, good luck to you in the yearly 'tax game'. I hope you get a refund.

Tax Time ( in category Memes & Prompts , Random Thoughts ) - posted at Sun, 21 Mar, 11:45 Pacific | «e»