I did our tax returns this year for the first time since, well, since never. I used to just hand my forms and 1099s to my mother. It wasn’t a big deal because I made about $90 a week and the only thing I owned was a 1967 Pontiac Trans Am with a cracked steering wheel. After my husband and I married, we started to hire accountants and they have handled things for us since then. We’ve had the same accountant for about 20 years and have mailed them to him in Connecticut, even after we moved out of state.
This year, I decided that I could do this myself, because I am convinced that if you can read it, you can do it. I ordered some software, downloaded it and promptly had a panic attack. It was prompting me to do things and I had no idea what is was talking about. Technical support was not very supportive as, apparently, their job is not to explain tax codes to me, but to help with any software issues. I should’ve gotten the clue when some guy named “Peggy” answered, wished me “Happy Time!” and transferred my call to Vilnius, Lithuania.
I turned to the IRS and South Carolina revenue websites, looking for answers. The more I read, the less I understood, and began to question just what language these codes were written in. I started printing pages of instructions which were supposed to actually instruct, but ended up strewn about the room. At some point, I must have been talking to my computer or to these many pieces of paper, because my husband came in to make sure I was alright. He took one look at the mounds of trees I had killed and backed away, muttering something like “I’m outta here”.
I gave up for a couple of days, as I needed to regroup and plan my next course of action. I would, occasionally, look into the computer room to see if a miracle had occurred during my absence. I was hoping that the software and all of my documents had somehow come together on their own. Seeing no progress, I closed the door so that I wouldn’t have to look at the mess, and left the job for another day.
I’m now 5 days into this process and I think I have given myself enough pep talks to continue. I armed myself with the largest cup of coffee I could make and opened the door, ready to go. Again, I opened the application and began to fill out forms, hoping that the software was, in fact, smarter than I am, and would come up with the right formulas. After another day or two of starts and stops, I finally finished the federal return. I peeked at it and it looked pretty good. I even compared it to last year’s and nothing appeared to be wildly out of order.
Now it prompts me to start the South Carolina return. I figure that, too, should be left for another day, and decide that it is much more important to transplant some shrubs. Tomorrow’s another day and my lilacs really need to be moved. Another day comes, and just as I am about to reembark, I remember that the horses had asked me to brush their manes and tails – an obvious emergency. So I’ve bought myself a couple more days by way of procrastination and open that damned door again. I begin the State return and am happy to find that much of my information has already been transferred from my Federal forms. I knew if I ignored this stuff long enough, a miracle would happen.
I then reach a portion which starts with the word “Caution”. Now, I don’t think that any form from the government should have that word in bold letters unless they’re recalling cars or food. This is not doing anything for my already fragile state of mind. So I close that door and take a nap. I am developing the migraine from Hell.
Upon awakening, I steel myself to investigate this “Caution” thing. This requires that I print some more instructions and forms from South Carolina’s little gang of rascally revenuers. Plowing through pages of material, each of which sends me somewhere else, I realize that this is all my husband’s fault. He turned age 65. Now I can’t rely on anything I have from any prior years and have to interpret this thing all by myself. I hold my breath, say “Yes” in response to the retirement deduction, click save and go back to bed.
It’s been ten days and counting, and I think I have checked, double checked and triple checked this nonsense to death. My husband has urged me to eat something and maybe take a hot bath. Something about my appearance at that point made him rethink his offer, but just in case I changed my mind, he pushed a sandwich under the door. My less than helpful software company now wants to know if I want to review everything and file my returns. File my returns? I’m not ready to go that far yet. Maybe I should brush the dogs first.
OK, I say, throw some cold water on your face and get back in there. I open all of this stuff up again and actually look at what I have created. It’s all there and it looks right. I think I started giggling a little, I don’t really remember. Maybe I had a fever or something. I hit print and here are my beautiful forms, looking like they had been done by someone who actually knew what they were doing. I’m relieved and grateful – bent but not broken.
I have some plans for next year. I am applying for Social Security numbers for all of our critters. I can then claim a total of seven dependents. I will keep better track of what we have been paying veterinarians, so that I can deduct medical expenses. Things like that can really add up and save you some serious money. Please don’t tell those government auditors. If it all goes badly, I’m blaming my husband. I’ll be napping.
“rascally revenuers” Hahahaha. Ha, Ha.
Napping, brushing dogs … sounds so familiar.
My friend and I have figured out that our closets are never so organized, furniture so polished, car so shiny or bills so up to date as when we are supposed to be doing SOMETHING ELSE.
Cheers on getting that done.
I lost it on “Peggy.” Now that was a fun read. Be sure to reward yourself.
So funny! I totally agree that grooming the hooved ones is a clear-cut emergency with no alternative. So funny. And how dare the Emperor turn 65 the first year you’ve decided to do your own taxes!? I think he should stop that. I also loved the sandwich under the door. The Emperor sounds perfectly lovely.
I also am very, very upset that you dumped the Trans Am. I had to do some research. There are certain production aspects of that car, that, if you had one of the rarer ones, could put a horse through college if you sold it today. 😀
I think that he’d like to stop that whole getting older thing, too. I’m just glad that he has the sense of humor required to live with my antics.
Now, about that college idea – I just realized that I can deduct some of their education. I’m making a note for next year.
I can’t even remember what happened to the Trans Am, which was 6 years old when I bought it for $500. It seemed like a fortune to me at the time.
We had to file early this year (because of college bound son) which surprised our accountant because we are the extention file type (by doing our taxes in October we get the return just in time for holiday shopping). That said, I had to help said college bound son do his fed and state and while they were the EZ forms…..it was no picnic! SO kudos to you Empress for tackling one of the most heinous of tasks!
I really care about how overworked my accountant is so that’s why we almost always file for the extension. That’s my story & I’m sticking to it! For years, when our lives were simple, I did the taxes. It was a relief to at last turn over all the paperwork to an accountant. Then my husband decided to leave his job of over 20 years & start his own adventure. Did you know you can start a company by just logging into your state’s treasury dept. website? It’s so much easier than seeing a lawyer, right? Wrong! We made so many mistakes doing it ourselves online that an attorney would have been worth the $ many times over. After several years, trying to fix all the mistakes we made, I am now on a first name basis with my state’s dept. of labor, taxation, revenue, treasury & just about every other dept. the state has.
Just such a great read. I loved it and emailed it to friends. Im so glad you decided to write your own blog Empress.
Thank you for another enjoyable read. I don’t recall if you’ve ever submitted anything you’ve written to a magazine or other publication but you are a gifted writer and it seems to me that you’d get a positive response. For what it’s worth, that’s my opinion.
Reading this for some reason I began to visualize looking in my rear-view mirror and seeing the flashing strobe behind me as I pulled over, nearly paralyzed by fear. When I sit down to do my taxes and begin to read the forms the words on the page become a huge blur. When I lived in the U.S. I could generally do the EZ forms, although not, of course, in the years that some of my work had been performed on a contract basis. Here in Canada there is no easy, concise form for regular wage earners, another one of the many things I neither understand, nor like about the way things are done here.
Every year I approach the process with dread and, because I am who I am, procrastination. Because I procrastinate I usually end up receiving letters from various gov’t. agencies who threaten to withhold their subsidies/assistance, such as medical, housing and my qualification is dependant on the tax form info. So then the fear is compounded and in addition I’m panic stricken at the thought of losing the assistance. As I write, I’m looking at the pile of crap on the desk right next to my chair.
But I’ve become quite sloth-like in the last few years and unlike you, Empress, replanting your lilacs or brushing your four-legged friends, or you Adgirl, cleaning out your closets, I just sit here typing away on my laptop, occasionally feeding the cat and watering the plants. You may put off doing your taxes but you’re accomplishing other things while I am not. One of these days, hopefully soon, I’ll become embarrassed at having confessed this fact over and over again to you all, and get off my sagging hiney and do something, such as making my airline ressies.
All I can do is wish you good luck Empress, you’ll need it.
The IRS should have a 10% penalty for circular references in their directions, especially if itemizing deductions. I didn’t just procrastinate, I gave up and searched Angie’s list for a good tax person.
Geez, I avoided reading your post. I simply did not want to organize everything that I plop into a envelope all year long. My hubby made an appointment for me this week to do the taxes. We have rental property and that can be a big pain in the yahoo organizing each and every repair slip by date. I have everything in rubberbaned neat piles and organized on paper to put into my word processing table. YUCK! YUCK! YUCK!. After all that I took a u-tube break listening to Van Morrison, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Gee Gee’s, Doobie Brothers, etc. I’ll enter the data later.
There you go, Donna. You have over a month anyway – play your music first!
Finished and printed! Hubby wanted to watch a movie that I didn’t want to watch. I had 2 hours of frustration and the blisss of not being interuped. We go to the accountant tomorrow.