April 13, 2005

My tax update.

I'm going on paper, sans software. And I've figured out a few things: how much you've got to put on Schedule D when you cash out of your mutual fund, that the date of death is what counts as the cost of stock you inherit. Have you ever done the capital gains worksheet? It's like a piece of comedy writing! I've got papers of all sorts spread out on the dining room table. Some force that is larger than I am is preventing me from finishing before the deadline. How crazy it is that taxes can reach out and consume a whole week of the year! How antithetical to productivity! In other words: what a waste!

14 comments:

Finn Kristiansen said...

Ann, you really should have just picked a software and done it. It is incredibly easy, whether via Turbotax or Taxcut. (Software disfunction is statistically unlikely, and if there are problems one can always just roll back to paper.)

I suspect that in a couple of years the government is gonna MAKE you do it totally electronically anyway, just as businesses are being required to over time.

You cannot complain about a wasted week when you choose the method of most effort. Somehow, you seem very picky and difficult on this issue, akin to not wanting to eat your tax peas. I think it's the Silvio effect. That car has changed you man!

Kidding.

Dave said...

I know you don't like to bank via computer, but if you manage your finances (especially investments that pay dividends, like mutual funds) through a program like Quicken or Money, all you need to do at tax time, if you want to prepare them via the paper forms, is print out a relevant report and copy the data by hand onto the form.

Ann Althouse said...

Wizard: If I'd been using software, I guarantee I'd be bitching about that. I would have had to read the instructions, encountered outrageous hidden fees, etc. It's not like I'm filling out the forms all week, more that it's hanging over my head and I can't face it for more than an hour at a time.

Dave: I really don't spend any time fooling with finances during the rest of the year. I just write some checks each month to pay my bills. Many years ago I entered everything into Quicken. Then, I decided it was a big waste of time. I'm quite bored by financial things of all sorts.

David said...

Ann, as a former Madisonite, and UW grad - stop being a luddite.

I did our sole prop taxes on paper for two years, screwed something up both times, and payed penalties.

Turbotax for business, was done in an hour, and the IRS never calls me.

The $60 bucks I spend saves me 10 hours. And penalties.

Abraham said...

I agree with you, Ann. I'm a techie. I read Slashdot. But I resent having to pay for the privilege of filing my taxes at greater convenience to the IRS. I guess it's a point of principle. (Also, I plan to Telefile!)

Incidentally, this huge waste and unneccessary complexity is a significant reason why I favor a national sales tax such as the one outlined at fairtax.org.

Girish said...

Oh lord, Ann. You're a Professor! As such, i imagine you can scrape together $150 or $200 bucks to hire someone from H&R Block to do this for you. The time and hassle of doing it yourself is definitely worth that amount. And, amazingly, they normally know what they are doing...

Larry said...

I've used TaxAct for several years and it makes tax preparation painless. It uses a “question/answer” system that is foolproof. If you save each year’s information, when finished, it will use that information to fill out next year’s forms for you, automatically. The program prints all the correct forms you will need for your return without you having to search for them. Federal program is free and state is $12.95 Highly recommended.

Jim Gust said...

I applaud you doing your taxes on paper, so you really get into the guts of these calculations. Yes, doing it on a computer is easier, but why should the tax code be made so complicated that only computer programmers can figure it out? Don't forget to run those AMT numbers, by the way.

Ann Althouse said...

David: it's not Luddite to oppose particular technologies. I adopt what I think will improve my life. I'm an early adopter for some things, and I have an Archos Jukebox and a Rocketbook to prove it.

And to lots of you: it's not about the money either. It's about the aggravation. I find handing my private papers over to somebody else just very unpleasant. The paper taxes, I've been doing for more than 30 years.

It's like cleaning the house. You've got to do it. You know how to do it. You could buy new gadgets but they might not work too well. (I have the broken Roomba to prove that.) And you could hire somebody, but then they'd be in your house, nosing about, doing things wrong. At least, this way I've got a grip on things.

Ann Althouse said...

And aren't I somehow keeping tabs on the government, keeping in touch with the complexity foisted on us? The software would hide all that. All those lines that don't apply to you are there as a service to someone other than you. I'm vaguely monitoring that.

JB said...

Or, as my tax professor stated, It's turbotax that is allowing the AMT to remain.

Ann Althouse said...

JB: That is SO true! I'm putting that on the front page!

robert said...

I've tried both Turbo Tax and by hand (using the hand fill-in-able, savable PDF forms at irs.gov). I do it by hand. Turbo Tax does not really work so well if you have anything unusual in your tax situation. I have investment real estate, foreign tax credits, foreign income exclusions, a side business, etc. I end up having to go to the IRS site to read the instruction booklets online to figure out how to respond to the TurboTax wizard questions.

And every few years I just have a tax expert do it for me, just so I will always have a not-too-out-of-date reference to consult when I do it myself.

Tax Lawyer said...

Turbotax is good, but you have to carefully review their returns. True story: this year when I did Turbotax, it failed to add back my state and local taxes to arrive at my New York income. This would have resulted in an erroneous refund of several thousand dollars. I called them to let them know what their program was doing; they reviewed it; a few days later they called back, said thank you very much, that was a glitch in the program, it's fixed now. Yikes! What about the people who filed NY returns before me?