Friday, March 27, 2009

Taxes in Texas are Taxing!

Does anyone remember the days of being able to file taxes on a 1040EZ form? It was LONG before Turbo Tax. For that matter, it was years before home computers were common. You didn't need a home computer. It was very straight forward: 1 side of a page, fill in a few spaces, attach your W-2 and wait for Uncle Sam to send you a check for being such a good steward! LOL!

Taxes started getting a touch more difficult the year I "retired" from teaching and took out my Texas Teacher retirement fund money (I was NEVER going to teach in a classroom again, but I did the following year in a DIFFERENT location). A few years later we moved to Africa and had to figure out how to file our taxes when we returned to the States. Along came kids and we added a few more steps.

Then came taxes for the year 2001. I became a Pampered Chef consultant that year. I became a "Business Owner" and a self-employed member of society. I joined the ranks of those who have to hold onto every little receipt and record miles driven to various locations. I have since learned about this cool little internet feature called Mapquest for finding mileage. The first year it was a learning process, but the following 6 years, taxes were a breeze. In fact, for a few years it was downright fun. I had progressed to Turbo Tax. I loved putting in the numbers and watching that little ticker showing a refund get bigger and bigger.

Around the 4th or 5th year, my husband's income had gone up, I was making more with Pampered Chef, but our expenses also increased. It seemed quite unfair that we were living just as we had before, or even more frugally, yet, before my Pampered Chef information was input, we owed on our taxes. Yes, yes, I know, welcome to the wonderful world of adulthood and life in America. Yes, yes, I know my streets are paved by tax dollars (though I highly suspect the streets I drive on use my sales tax I pay everywhere). Somewhere, though, with the numbers on the ticker showing on the "You owe" side, this became far less fun.

Typically, I've had my taxes done in February. Often, I've had them done the first week in February. Not this year. I have put it off until now. I gathered all my receipts (you know, the ones you are supposed to be taking care of all year and putting into your Quicken program so it does all the wonderful math for you, but if you are a highly disorganized home school mom with frequent illness and special needs kids, they end up scrunched in a purse). I categorized. I worked on my Pampered Chef program to pop up mileage and expenses for the year. I was ALL SET. I went to the store and bought the best bargain of a tax program I could find: H&R Block's Tax-Cut. It said it would import my info from Turbo Tax from last year's report. And it was $10 less than Turbo Tax! Woo-hoo!

Here is where it gets ugly. I put in my new program. It was not too difficult to install, but not exactly self-sufficient, either. It did not make it easy to input last year's data, but I figured it out. Then I started inputting info. It is NOT user friendly. I am guessing the program was designed by computer programmers. You may laugh at that, unless you are married to a computer geek. Then you are groaning and nodding a knowing nod. Turbo Tax asks questions as if you were sitting with a real person. It's like "Taxes for Dummies 101." This program is taxes for someone who could just as easily filled out the paperwork rather than wasting days trying to figure this thing out.

I thought I was through tonight, until I did the "error check." The program asked me what copy of my 1099-Misc I had. Turbo Tax never asked that. I put in a 1. It didn't like that. I put in a B (it says "copy B" on my 1099-Misc.). It didn't like that. I asked a friend who does accounting work who said to try 2, as 1 would be for the state. I tried that. It liked that. Guess what else? It put in my income as double from Pampered Chef and I went from getting money back to owing $400. THere was no way to change the info on my 1099 form in the program! So, I tried changing that back to 1 to see if it liked it. It did. Then I still owed money. I thought maybe it has a duplicate 1099, so I hit delete on the 1099 area. Then I was getting back a much LARGER refund.

Bottom line: on Friday I will be buying Turbo Tax. And I hope anyone else using Tax-Cut has a much easier time of things than I did!

1 comment:

Karen Lynn said...

What's with the scowl on her face??

Great new haircuts!