I have a tax strategy, but if I told you what it was I’d have to kill you. Ha ha. Fakename is so funny.
Actually for some years now I’ve been using Turbotax to do my taxes, which tells you the most important thing you need to know: Fakename doesn’t have any money. If I did, I’d probably have a live human involved in the process.
So I just finished my taxes, which by my calculation should take about 30 minutes and actually takes about 4 hours every year. The process starts with me not being able to remember my User ID and password, so I have to wait for Turbotax to send me emails telling me what those are–separately, of course.
The good thing is that once that’s out of the way, Turbotax remembers a lot about me, including my name and address, although they do ask me to confirm that I am still who I was last year and that I still live there. It’s not a good sign when you have to think for a minute before clicking “yes”.
Using Turbotax was actually a big step up for me. I used to just pick up Form 1040EZ from the IRS office or the library, fill it out in about 10 minutes, and mail it in, then wait 6 weeks. That was before today’s options such as–take your W-2 to “Get Your Refund Today!” They give you money on the spot (minus a hefty fee), and none of that delayed gratification stuff.
Every year I forget that I get a credit for paying property taxes, and since I’m not organized enough to have kept my receipt from last year, I have to go online to find out how much I paid, but there’s a trick to that. I give myself credit for remembering there’s a trick to it, I just couldn’t remember what it was. I had a sneaking suspicion that I couldn’t go to the tax collector’s website–which seems highly logical–and I was right. They’ll tell you how much you owe THIS year, but to find out how much you paid last year you have to go to the Property Appraiser’s website. Go figure. (Add 30 minutes to tax preparation.) Somebody remind me of this next year.
A new thing for me this year was that I bought a car last year, and I was delighted to learn I could deduct the sales tax. (Go find paperwork from sale of car–try to decipher–guess which number goes where in Turbotax–add 30 minutes.) Then I was going to throw in gas mileage for use of my car for work, which is not reimbursed by my company, and IS deductible, and which I claimed last year, but the issue became extremely complicated when Turbotax (well, technically, the IRS) learned I had two cars in the same year, and they wanted to know how much I used one car versus the other and why did I stop using the first one? (Press “Back” button until you reach the ” Never Mind” button. Add 30 more minutes.)
I had some surprises this year, one of which was the “Make Work Pay” credit. I really should pay more attention to the whole income tax thing. In 2009, what happened was that the government reduced the amount of withholding. I did notice that. I thought it was a tax reduction! Surprise! You just owe more at the end of the year! The total owed remained the same. Clearly this is a socialist conspiracy designed to let me keep more money throughout the year.
In the end I was disappointed with Turbotax this year. First of all they almost doubled their fee for the same type of return ($55 vs. $30 last year). And although this isn’t new, there seem to be even more “additional services” offered this year, for a fee of course. However, one of those additional services just struck me dumb with laughter.
It was called “Ask A (Tax) Professional!” Your personal concerns can be addressed for an additional $39.95 for the first 20 minutes. I haven’t seen that kind of advertising since I used to work nights and was confined to watching very late-night, early-morning TV.
The good news is that I did finish and file my taxes, and my refund is going straight to my account in the Cayman Islands. Ha ha. Fakename is so funny.