Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A taxing situation

The one redeeming feature about tax season this year is that TurboTax has a vastly improved interface over the last time I tried it. I switched to TaxCut some years ago, but they dropped the Mac version so I’m back to the old one. I’ll have to admit, it did a pretty good job of knocking out a rather complex return (wife’s business, lots o’deductions, capital gain income from selling the timber and some stock options) — in fact, it went so well that I had already e-filed before realizing I’d forgotten a couple of items. The IRS phone support people told me to just file an amended return and it would be fine. Fortunately, I got that taken care of Saturday (the 15th).

If that sounds rather chaotic, consider some friends we helped out with their taxes. They hadn’t filed since 2002, and decided to catch it all up. The IRS was rather surprised to hear that they were wanting to get things cleaned up, and gave them some slack. To add insult to injury, it looks like each year would have resulted in a refund so far (we have 2002 and 2003 done, and he got disabled in late 2003 so there won’t be much of any income for the next two years).

Then there’s the handyman dude that helps Mrs. Fetched with the chicken houses and the in-laws with the farm. He summarized all his stuff for last year and asked us to take care of it. At the last minute. With him gone somewhere with a full voice mailbox on his smellyphone. Needless to say, I hit two show-stopping snags early on during the Monday night marathon session and couldn’t get it finished. As of Wednesday night, we still haven’t heard from him or been able to reach him. Maybe he lit out for Brazil or something. He had H&R Block do his taxes last year, and they charged him over $80 to do a 1040-EZ and Planet Georgia’s form (which is simple enough to do in 15 minutes on paper with a calculator).

I’m seriously considering looking into whatever needs to be done to do this stuff for money next year. I’ll just figure I won’t have a life from March 1 to April 15, then take whatever I make and go on a two-week vacation. Our piano player at church works for a CPA, and they’re totally swamped during tax season... maybe they would funnel the piddly jobs to me. I could charge maybe $50 for an EZ/state package; if I got only 20 of those I could take a nice vacation. I tend to be fairly conservative about what can and can’t be deducted or claimed... maybe I leave a few bucks on the table here and there, but I don’t worry about audits.

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