Today is tax day in the US. I just got back from the post office. I always send my tax returns by certified mail, and so should you. Most people don’t, I think. Ten bucks is worth it if my returns ever end up in some crazy postman’s attic. I have filed electronically in the past, but I still had to mail in a signature. If I have to go to the post office anyway, I might as well mail the whole thing.
This is the first time in about five years that I’ve filed timely. I like the automatic extension, but come August, I don’t like actually having to finish the return. I decided this year that I would just get it done. I almost failed, as I STARTED my return at about 7pm last night. Between that and watching Avs v. Stars (NHL Western Conference Quarter Finals), I got done about midnight last night (Colorado won in double overtime).
I used TurboTax to complete my return. It’s a really nice program, although a bit pricey. Last year, I used TaxCut which is down-right horrible. I changed to TaxCut last year because TurboTax implemented some kind of product activation, to which I am opposed on principle. They must have had a drop in sales, because I didn’t see any product activation this year. PA or not, I wasn’t using TaxCut again. Everytime I had anything even the slightest bit complicated, TaxCut advised me to print the forms from the IRS website and complete them by hand. What? If I’m filing a 1040EZ, I don’t need the software to begin with.
Generally, TurboTax seems to ask the right questions. However, this year I had a lot of trouble apportioning some K-1 income between different states. I had to do it manually (on the computer forms, rather than just by answering questions). I’m sure I made a mistake somewhere – hopefully it was in my favor, but probably not.
The apportionment problem stems from the fact that some states have not changed their tax laws to match federal tax laws. Specifically in the Sec. 179 and bonus depreciation areas. I really need to move to a state with no income tax. I wouldn’t have to worry about apportionment and I wouldn’t have to buy the state products from Intuit ($30 a state x 2 states).
As I’m walking in the post office, there’s a man and a woman sitting at a table outside. A sign hanging from the edge of the table says:
GAMING PETITION – SIGN HERE
As I approach, the man asks me if I’m a registered voter. I say “No Thanks” and keep walking. Twenty minutes later (about 10 people in line to mail their tax returns) I walk out and approach the table. Gambling is one of the few political issues about which I have an opinion. The man is gone, so I ask the woman, “Are you for or against gaming?”. She says, “Neutral, I guess.” Neutral? I said “If you’re neutral, why do you need a petition?” At that point the man approaches the table and starts to tell me that it’s just their job and they get $300 per day to collect signatures.
He better be lying. Unlike these two people, I surmize, I have a bachelor’s degree, I’ve passed the CPA exam and I’ve been gainfully employed since leaving high school. Assuming they work 8 hours a day, they make considerably more than me per hour (I concede they probably don’t work every day). I’m thinking about being a professional signature collector. I could travel from state-to-state, looking for petition work – and maybe solving mysteries along the way.
What really struck me about that whole incident, is that these people actually thought that I was asking where they stand personally on gaming. It seems obvious to me that I was asking whether the petition was for or against gambling, not what the position of these two yokels is. I walked away, never learning what the petition was for. Too bad they don’t pay them by the signature.
From the IRS stats site, I downloaded some tax stats from last year. Seventy-seven percent of filers got a refund. I tell anyone who will listen that they should not be getting a refund from their tax returns. A refund means that you’ve made a no interest loan to the government. If your refund is over about $200, you need to change your W-4 to have less withheld. Not surprisingly, nobody listens to me. They like using the feds as a savings account, I guess.
Here’s a list of tax jokes. The few I read weren’t funny, but political humor rarely is.