February 8, 2017

"The state has accepted my tax return!" — I exclaim with genuine happiness.

That's what it's come to.



IN THE COMMENTS: I wrote:
My point is that this oppressive system is structured in such a way and you are beaten down so much in the process that you celebrate when the government accepts your obeisance.

I am still waiting for our federal tax refund from last year! I'm told my case made the rounds and finally came to rest on some actual person's desk some time in December and I could expect action in 30 to 90 days. I was quite relieved to get that information, because previously, I didn't know if the whole thing were down some blind rathole.
UPDATE: On February 13, I finally go the refund from my 2015 taxes.

75 comments:

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I jumped in utter jubilation this morning because after two weeks of daily check-ins, I finally saw today that the IRS has approved my refund and scheduled its delivery. Yaaaaay yaaaay yaaaaaaay!

That's more fun than yours, though.

FullMoon said...

You passed the state tax test? Interesting how the state presents it. Like a contest.

buwaya said...

We always have to wait for the brokerage statements.
Those fellows take their time.
I suspect collusion somewhere.

TreeJoe said...

I love that our system of taxation is based upon structured forced withholding at the payer level combined with tedious documentation of actual taxes owed at the individual level followed by a submission process where you need to find out whether your forced withholding + careful documentation is "accepted" by the state - pending mysterious follow-up.

If you sit back for a moment, our tax system sounds like a government-gone-wrong fiction writing of a futuristic society rather than an accepted norm of today's culture.

Flat tax people, flat tax. It can be 5% up to $25,000, 15% up to $50,000, 20% up to $200,000, and 25% up to $500,000. Whatever. You don't even need to actually collect more or less than today on an individual level - JUST MAKE IT SIMPLE.

TreeJoe said...

P.s. I have 63 "allowances" on my w4 in order to reduce my forced withholding to a reasonable level and decrease my likelihood of a "refund".

When I submitted this, multiple people questioned it. They apparently weren't used to people putting above about 7. Even the people guiding you are taught to recommend a maximal withholding strategy.

tcrosse said...

It takes a bit of planning, but it's better to owe a few bucks rather than get a refund. Then you don't have to be in too much of a hurry to file, and you've had the use of the money all year. But if loaning the money interest-free to Uncle Sugar is the only way you can save, then so be it.

Birkel said...

I like the idea that an interest free loan to the government is seen as a good thing. Yay, refund!

In what other context does providing an interest free loan seem like a good idea?

Ann Althouse said...

My point is that this oppressive system is structured in such a way and you are beaten down so much in the process that you celebrate when the government accepts your obeisance.

I am still waiting for our federal tax refund from last year! I'm told my case made the rounds and finally came to rest on some actual person's desk some time in December and I could expect action in 30 to 90 days. I was quite relieved to get that information, because previously, I didn't know if the whole thing were down some blind rathole.

AprilApple said...

All hail the State!

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Accepted just means received, as TurboTax helpfully womansplains.

Ann Althouse said...

"I like the idea that an interest free loan to the government is seen as a good thing. Yay, refund!"

It's not as though the bank is paying interest worth a damn.

Filling out my tax forms, I was aware of how piddling the interest on the savings account is, and Meade reminded me that we are fortunate the bank isn't charging negative interest for holding our money for us. That CAN happen.

n.n said...

One less thing to worry about. One step closer to peace of mind.

MadisonMan said...

I'm about 95% done with my taxes. This week maybe is the week they get done.

I'm just hoping someone else hasn't filed in my name/ss#. That's happened to several friends.

traditionalguy said...

One must learn to love Big Brother. He loves you.

Ann Althouse said...

"Accepted just means received, as TurboTax helpfully womansplains."

Well, the first time I tried to file both the federal and state returns were REJECTED. I had to do something related to security to get them accepted, so I don't accept your "just" -- whatever is at the link.

Obviously, I know the government is not approving of all your numbers and calculations at this point, but getting the returns accepted was an agonizing chore for me, and it is related to the ordeal with the previous tax return, the one that hasn't reached the point of giving me the refund yet.

CStanley said...

I was quite relieved to get that informations, because previously, I didn't know if the whole thing were down some blind rathole.

It was probably held up by a couple of rogue employees in Cincinnati.

Laslo Spatula said...

Great news! Shylock has accepted your pound of flesh.

Before someone's dander is riled, this is not an anti-Semitic comment, just a Shakespearean one.

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

I hate dealing with money. I have a short toleration span and then I pretty much lose my mind. I literally become hysterical.

Michael K said...

Back when I was still in practice, it was a common tactic (nobody could be that inept) for MediCal, the California Medicaid system, to reject claims for treatment by saying that the claim had not been received within the time limit for submission.

Since I ran a trauma center and did not bother to submit claims for small amounts, the rejected claims were usually for significant amounts. My office was very competent to the point that the hospital billing office contacted us for billing information on some of these patients.

We finally tried to submit claims by registered mail with the date of delivery certified.

The state MediCal office refused to accept registered or certified mail.

Very few doctors I knew would accept MediCal and that was one common reason.

After I retired, I was getting MediCal payments for two years. That's how long it took to get paid for the claims that made it.

buwaya said...

The IRS is the most fearsome part of the FedGov, it makes sense to make obeisance to it. Gratitude or simply relief when you are shown some small mercy, or obtained some sign of approval, is natural. You fear the Iron God, but you love it if it gives a temporary assurance of security.

A more cruel government could easily make itself more popular by having more of its agencies persecute individuals on whimsical grounds, at the same time issuing certificates of good standing. Wouldnt you all feel some relief if informed that the EPA considered you to be in good standing with them?

Michael K said...

"It's not as though the bank is paying interest worth a damn. "

This has been a significant factor in the economy of Tucson. There is a large winter population of "snowbirds" and many of these people were badly hurt by the Obama ZIRP that has kept interest at zero for years. They have pensions invested in bonds and bond funds that used to be considered the most desirable investment for those retired or about to retire.

I am certain that this is a big factor on the stock market the past few years. There was no place else to invest.

I don't know how Trump can unravel this.

buwaya said...

This anxiety is why my wife made me do the taxes right off.
Before even taking over the other husbandly duties of garbage and cleaning up after the cat.

gspencer said...

AA, are you pleased ("with genuine happiness") that your financial master is pleased with you?

"When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."

TJ himself.

Mac McConnell said...

Acceptance and even receiving a refund, doesn't mean the IRS is done with your return. They like to surprise you two to three years later plus interest.

CStanley said...

I've always thought it maddening to deal with the IRS but nothing tops my experience with DHS issues related to our Obamacare policy. We made the unfortunate decision to buy a plan off the exchange last year and spent the entire year being asked to prove that my son is a US citizen (he was born elsewhere so I guess our account got flagged.)

Nothing I submitted would satisfy them and they would randomly start targeting the other members of the family too. I have, without exaggeration, a six inch stack of correspondence on the matter, and every couple of weeks they'd go back and forth as to whether various family members were in the clear. Halfway through the year I gave up and decided that as long as the insurance company was still paying our claims I would ignore the whole mess and this year we just purchased off the exchange. It never made sense that citizenship would matter anyway since we neither requested nor received a subsidy, but I suppose my first mistake was in thinking it should make sense.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone condescendingly suggested that I don't know how to handle money because I always get refunds or that that's the only way I know how to save.

The resulting pile of money would be bigger than any refund I've ever gotten!

If someone wants to provide USEFUL tax advice, it would be how to claim the child tax credit when your income exceeds the limit. That shit pisses me off.

bagoh20 said...

"...getting the returns accepted was an agonizing chore for me..."

Imagine how it is for someone without your intelligence, experience, and connections to help you, which is most taxpayers. I have an accountant now, but for most of my life did my own taxes, and often those of friends, so I understand the system better than most. Everyone else is just like livestock with the threat of a cattle prod forcing them to just go with whatever the government says to do. To try and fight for your own money is like that cow deciding to resist - hopeless, painful, and doomed to failure.

Birkel said...

Ann Althouse:

Not paying much interest beats paying no interest every time. If those few dollars mean so little to you, I'm happy to take them off your hands.

Pitiful.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

The IRS is the most fearsome part of the FedGov, it makes sense to make obeisance to it. Gratitude or simply relief when you are shown some small mercy, or obtained some sign of approval, is natural. You fear the Iron God, but you love it if it gives a temporary assurance of security.

A more cruel government could easily make itself more popular by having more of its agencies persecute individuals on whimsical grounds, at the same time issuing certificates of good standing. Wouldnt you all feel some relief if informed that the EPA considered you to be in good standing with them?


Delightful and scary comment!

cubanbob said...

Ann move to Florida and you will have the sublime joy of not having to file a state tax return ever again. Summer sucks but you can't have it all.

tcrosse said...

"It's not as though the bank is paying interest worth a damn. "
Rather than put it in the bank, you could go buy shit.

cubanbob said...

If the Republicans were really serious about downsizing the federal government they would abolish the withholding tax and force everyone to pay quarterly.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

After I retired, I was getting MediCal payments for two years. That's how long it took to get paid for the claims that made it.

I used to do billing for a psychiatrist in private practice. There was some state program (Texas) that was supposed to pay for treatment for, I forget the exact acronym, but it was for the mentally handicapped and destitute. They had not been paying claims for some time for bullshit reasons and when I started I inherited a huge ball of old claims, some of which had been resubmitted 2-3 times. As I had time I worked through the stack, untangling the messes of referrals & EOBs & denial letters, and put them into a coherent file with a timeline, an index, and a cover letter begging to be paid. The stars aligned and my doc got a sizeable check, but it was years after the dates of service, and it was for far less than the value of the treatment he had provided. And that was when we got lucky.

And people wonder why 9/10 docs advise against a medical career.

Meade said...

MadisonMan said...
"I'm about 95% done with my taxes."

Chop chop, man. You only have until April 18th!

Fernandinande said...

tcrosse said...
It takes a bit of planning, but it's better to owe a few bucks rather than get a refund.


And in the meantime you can invest the money in lottery tickets.

Meade said...

"Rather than put it in the bank, you could go buy shit."

You mean like an Alfa Romeo?

tcrosse said...

And in the meantime you can invest the money in lottery tickets.
Which is how we work it in Nevada. The state gets a cut of the gaming action. At least it's voluntary, and more fun than filling out those damned forms.


Curious George said...

A.A.A. huh?

Can we call you for roadside assistance?

tcrosse said...

You mean like an Alfa Romeo?
More like an Audi, to empower our daughters.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I like the idea that an interest free loan to the government is seen as a good thing. Yay, refund!"

It's not as though the bank is paying interest worth a damn.

Filling out my tax forms, I was aware of how piddling the interest on the savings account is, and Meade reminded me that we are fortunate the bank isn't charging negative interest for holding our money for us. That CAN happen.

2/8/17, 9:48 AM



Interest? You're so pretty.

No, no, you INVEST this money. As follows is an example.

Take your say $2000 refund. You go out and buy a pound of killer hydro. Put it into ounce bags and sell at $300 each, you've profited $2800. Put into quarter ounce bags and sell for $100, profit = $4400. You could make even more selling it in smaller quantities but it is more work. As an emerita, you probably have contacts for the rest of your life to facilitate this.

Or you buy a bolt of cloth, sell it and buy two, sell those and buy four, rinse, repeat, as my great-grandfather did when he came over.

Or you stake your nephew to start up a taco truck and collect off his profits.

This is INVESTMENT, as opposed to finding a vehicle to park your money so THEY can invest it.

rhhardin said...

I used to program my own returns so that when I fixed a number the rest of the return fixed itself, but the rules got so complex that even somebody who likes to program is put off and goes Turbotax.

It seldom agreed with the IRS to the penny because I worked in floating point and they have a convention of rounding pennies to the dollar, but they always took it.

TosaGuy said...

In 2015, Uncle Sam basically punished me for making too much money on rental property and the tax liability would only increase going forward. Considering the time invested and the tremendous property liability I carried for the very small profit after taxes, I spent 2016 restructuring myself out of business and will starting in 2017 pay far far less in taxes, but essentially have the same personal monthly cash flow.

Few understand how the tax code punishes those trying to move up in life financially or run a small business.

madAsHell said...

Triple A!!

pacwest said...

Early in my first business I decided to fight the IRS over a 1 cent underpayment after making absolutely sure with my bookeeper we were in the right. After 3 years and a couple of thousand in expenses fighting it I paid the $100+ of fines and interest. Worth the money just to have the story to tell.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...I am still waiting for our federal tax refund from last year! I'm told my case made the rounds and finally came to rest on some actual person's desk some time in December and I could expect action in 30 to 90 days. I was quite relieved to get that information, because previously, I didn't know if the whole thing were down some blind rathole.

The important thing to keep in mind, though, is that things are much much worse in the private sector. Only the Government can provide service this good--any attempts to privatize any current function of government must be fought--to the death if necessary. Impeach DeVos!

Ann Althouse said...It's not as though the bank is paying interest worth a damn.

Yeah, that bank rate you get is based on the federal funds rate which is set by...who, again? Oh man, this thing goes all the way to the top! In all seriousness, now that there's a Republican in the White House I fully expect to suddenly start seeing all sorts of articles about how terrible super-low rates are for savers/retirees/people on fixed incomes, how grandma can't afford her food 'cause her CDs don't pay jack, etc. Nevermind how we got here....

Ann Althouse said...I hate dealing with money. I have a short toleration span and then I pretty much lose my mind. I literally become hysterical.

That cartoonish "boing!" you just heard was the sound of hundreds of "financial advisors" getting simultaneous erections.

Really, though: sorry to hear dealing with that stuff is so unpleasant for you--maybe now that you're retired it will be less of a pain. Good luck w/the IRS, too!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

CStanley said...Nothing I submitted would satisfy them and they would randomly start targeting the other members of the family too.

It was my understanding that a copy of a long-form birth certificate and/or birth notice from a contemporary Hawaii newspaper were the gold standard, CStanely. Shoulda tried that.
(No charge for the advice, this time.)

Left Bank of the Charles said...

"I had to do something related to security to get them accepted."

I wonder if you have been hit by identify theft, such as someone filing a fraudulent return for a refund under your name and social security number. The IRS takes the position that it is the victim of the theft and so the taxpayer isn't entitled to any information about exactly what happened. They just (there I go probably misusing that word again) give you a six digit Identity Protection PIN to use for security and expect you to get on with it.

In the not too distant future, I think we're all going to be issued a second "secret" identification number to go with our "public" social security number.

jaydub said...

The IRS has yet to accept my 2015 tax return. They charged me less than $10 interest for a supposed late payment (it wasn't, I have the certified mail receipts and tracking history.) I called them and was told to just send them copies of the mail receipts and that would take care of it. I did, but it didn't. I still get a letter from the IRS every few months telling me they are working dilligently on my issue. I figure it has cost them at least a few hundred so far to keep kicking the $10 can down the road. It's past time to shut them down and go to an automated system like a flat tax.

Unknown said...

In the middle of tax season myself. I'm fortunate in that the vast majority of returns I have to file are for poor, common folk who almost can get away with a 1040A.

Really not much you can do with those.... most take the standard deduction; they have nothing but income on the front side of the 1040 and they get the child tax credit or additional child tax credit. Did one return, both state and federal, in less than 30 minutes and most of that was just the drudgery of entering names and addresses and double checking social security numbers, that kind of thing.

It's the other few clients that give me migraines. The ones with rental property, or a few other self employed business.

Taxes are a nightmare if you aren't a 9-5 peon somewhere.

--Vance

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Laslo Spatula said...Great news! Shylock has accepted your pound of flesh.

Bad example. Shylock refused sums much greater than he was owed--the IRS will happily forgive all kinds of transgressions in exchange for large sums of money.

Shylock got robbed, anyway--the proceeding to interpret the contract in a way that rendered its penalty unenforcable was invalid (Portia lied to get in to the court at all). Then instead of nullifying the contract (and making Shylock forfeit his principal) they construed the very contract itself--willingly consented-to by all parties--as a criminal act by Shylock, and used the threat of punishment for that crime (not separately tried, mind you; they just assumed Shylock was guilty) to claim all his possessions in a kind of super civil asset forfeiture scheme.

Shylock got railroaded--it is difficult for me to understand how anyone doesn't take his side in the matter.

Ann Althouse said...

"That cartoonish "boing!" you just heard was the sound of hundreds of "financial advisors" getting simultaneous erections."

I avoid these people. Why would I trust them? I'd have to be involved in monitoring them. It would compound my emotional distress around money.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...I avoid these people. Why would I trust them? I'd have to be involved in monitoring them. It would compound my emotional distress around money.

Just so. It's the Scylla of difficult to trust & monitor "advisors" vs. the Charybdis of dealing with unpleasant things yourself (or knowingly accepting suboptimal results, etc).

Legal matters are similar for many people, though, aren't they? How do I know my lawyer is giving me good advice and/or giving me good value for my money--what kind of monitoring mechanism can I put in place to protect myself? Tougher to just avoid "those people," too!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I mean, I bet attorneys make lots of money off people who dislike "arcane" legal matters those people could actually handle themselves (using LegalZoom or doing a bit of internet research, say) just like financial advisors make money off people who would be just as well off putting their money in a Vanguard fund/index funds.

The intersection of managerial economics (how to monitor work, how to evaluate output) and professional service ethics (what duty is owed to clients, how to engender necessary trust) is an interesting place. Dangerous, though!

rhhardin said...

I take suboptimal returns in return for not caring.

tcrosse said...

Emotional distress around money is not as bad as emotional distress around no money.

tcrosse said...

I take suboptimal returns in return for not caring.
Bingo! This attitude will give you what many people strive for but will never have: Enough.

Scott said...

It's good to be accepted by the State.

Wilbur said...

Just as Wilbur uses a broker to deal with car dealers, I use a CPA friend to file my taxes. It's an opportunity to see my friend again and it's easy money for him.

I consider money spent to avoid an unpleasant chore is money very well spent. But then I do my own lawn and pool, something fairly rare in South Florida.

Your mileage may vary.

And Cuban Bob is right ... not having to file state tax returns is a pleasure. Wilbur would suggest it can only truly be appreciated if you've had to file and pay state income tax elsewhere.

Bad Lieutenant said...

HoodlumDoodlum said...
Ann Althouse said...I avoid these people. Why would I trust them? I'd have to be involved in monitoring them. It would compound my emotional distress around money.

Just so. It's the Scylla of difficult to trust & monitor "advisors" vs. the Charybdis of dealing with unpleasant things yourself (or knowingly accepting suboptimal results, etc).

This is why you get a man. It used to be the man's job to manage the money. Ain't emancipation grand? <--rhhardin you owe me five bux

HoodlumDoodlum said...

rhhardin said...I take suboptimal returns in return for not caring.

You optimize for overall well being (value function of time/stress + value function of income and/or monetary return).

f(optimize for max $ return) <> f(optimize for overall health) for you. Probably for most!

Peter said...

Surely "The state has accepted by tax return!" should be qualified?

Presumably "accepted" means that all the mandatory fields were filled out, and perhaps that it detected no arithmetic errors or other inconsistencies but surely not that it's satisfied you've fully met your obligation and therefore it won't and can't come back and demand more money after further review?

320Busdriver said...

I started my returns recently and, at least so far, the federal bill looks to be bigger than any in the past. So I won't plan on filing until the last day.

The good news is annual company earnings announced this morning and record profits!
Along with our highest profit sharing payout to date. At least I'll be able to pay uncle sam. So I got that goin for me, which is nice.

320Busdriver said...

Wait a minute.....you are STILL waiting for the feds to return your loan from last year???

Surely they will have to pay some sort of penalty for holding your money you so generously lent them. They would not hesitate to ding you if it were the other way around.

West Texas Intermediate Crude said...

TreeJoe at 0938 recommends a flat tax.
A major improvement over the current system, but a true Flat Tax is calculated as follows:
X=Annual Government spending.
Y=number of people in USA (Optionally, count only people over 18 years old)
T=X/Y=amount of tax each person owes to the government annually.

Any other system is either a little (TreeJoe's system) or a lot (current system) of Socialism.
The grocery store, the gas station, the landlord don't adjust prices based on your income.
Government should not either.

Danno said...

TreeJoe said..."Flat tax people, flat tax. It can be 5% up to $25,000, 15% up to $50,000, 20% up to $200,000, and 25% up to $500,000. Whatever. You don't even need to actually collect more or less than today on an individual level - JUST MAKE IT SIMPLE." 2/8/17, 9:38 AM

Tree, just what is income and how is that simple? Simple is easier said than done. By the way, are you the guy Senator Russell Long was talking about when he said, "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree!"?

Just asking.

Danno said...

Blogger cubanbob said...Ann move to Florida and you will have the sublime joy of not having to file a state tax return ever again. Summer sucks but you can't have it all.

She could keep a home or cabin in Wisconsin as long as she was a resident of Florida and spent more than half her time there and it didn't appear to be a sham. So 7 or 8 months in Florida and the summer and parts of spring/fall in Wisconsin. In another year or two, I am seriously considering this but with Minnesota/Florida.

tcrosse said...

In another year or two, I am seriously considering this but with Minnesota/Florida.
Minnesota income tax is not that easy to escape. There is a list of hoops to jump through to avoid paying for the full year, even if you snow-bird. Last I looked some of this was still being hashed out in court.

Danno said...

Tcrosse, there is a 26 point test that I didn't mention for brevity's sake, and I am rehearsing all the things I need to fix to meet that hurdle when needed. There are several court cases involving the Luther Auto family and one of Joe Mauer's cousins that analyze the MN DoR's tests.

Danno said...

Tcrosse- Link-

http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/individuals/individ_income/factsheets/fact_sheets_fs1.pdf

320Busdriver said...

I too am looking to do WI/FL. WI has also made it much more onerous to evade state tax, even when spending less than 1/2 of the year in the state. I think it would be impossible if you had earned income while in WI paid by a WI company. Of course, one needs to be sure to register cars, DL, vote etc in the other state.

I will try to do this while I am still working, but I work for a WA company and none of my work is accomplished in WI. Resident status for the kids still in WI colleges? not sure how that would work either.

tcrosse said...

Danno -
I moved lock, stock, and barrel from MN to NV and jumped through as many of those hoops as I could. This will be my first year without MN income tax.

Meade said...

tcrosse said...
—You mean like an Alfa Romeo?
More like an Audi, to empower our daughters.

I don't know about you, tcrosse, but I have pretty much over-empowered my daughter. So that leaves just me as someone around here who could use some empowering. I sort of think the Alfa 4C Coupe would adequately empower me. Trouble is: Wisconsin sales tax bumps the price for my empowerment up over my 75K threshold. Sad. Who knows though — perhaps the empowered daughter will honor her old man's 63rd birthday by presenting him with the 2017 Alfa. If you see her and she asks, tell her Giallo Prototipo Yellow w/ black carbon roof. Thanks.

tcrosse said...

I sort of think the Alfa 4C Coupe would adequately empower me.
A 1960 Giulietta Sprint in red would do it for me.

Danno said...

...I will try to do this while I am still working, but I work for a WA company and none of my work is accomplished in WI. Resident status for the kids still in WI colleges? not sure how that would work either.

There are a lot of cases throughout the country concerning flight crew members. You might want to google that and see if you see any that might apply in your case, and consult an advisor, if so. I had thought you might be a current DL pilot (i.e. a former NW or MSP based) being a WI resident. The college residency thing would clearly work against your facts in favor of FL residency and maybe even be fatal. Anyway, good luck!

320Busdriver said...

@Danno, I agree it could be a blessing or a curse, and many a fcm have tried to evade state taxes with rather flimsy schemes. Some have paid a dear price I'm sure. DL would have been smart. Chose poorly and had a good run at ME(yx) then VA>ALK.

Maybe I tell the kids they gotta go somewhere else for school. Are you Reno/Tahoe or Vegas? We have a slew of cm's in NV but based in CA. Savings is yuuuge.