Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tax Season Woes

April 15th is less than a month away, and it's time for me to put my life on hold for a week or two. Time to wade through the annual sea of paperwork, just so the IRS can tell me to write them a check. ANOTHER check, really.

Kept all the receipts, everything filed by category. Plugging the information into TurboTax is the easy part. The killer is figuring out exactly which child a particular camp fee was for. If for the eldest, was it before or after his 13th birthday? Wait! What about the actual birthday week? Do I split that in half?

HSA distributions, deposits, insurance premiums... check, check and recheck. Ooh! Go back. Check again. Did the amount spent on dentists, orthodonists, annual checkups and prescriptions total up to 7.5% of AGI? Darn, we're 0.2% shy of the amount needed to deduct medical expenses. Except... where's the Rx receipts for June/July allergy and asthma meds? Who filed these in the Veterinary Bills folder?

This week, I have projects in the works for clients, books to read to 1st & 3rd graders at school, and two or three days with perfect riding weather. All of these things take a back seat to my preparations for that 1040 (and schedules). I know, an accountant could help. Might be worth it. Might not. An accountant would take care of the information which is input to TurboTax. Like I said earlier, that's the easy part. He/she would not be able to take care of the most time consuming, frustrating part of the process. The 12 months of record keeping, the gathering of the stacks of folders, the sorting.

There's too much time spent by too many people on this *$#!%@~! Something about the US tax system has to change. I'm not sure the "Fair Tax" is the answer. A flat tax seems the simpler option.

The president elected in November won't be able to do a thing to change the current mess. He/she may set the tone, but the actual laws are not made by the executive branch. That's the job of the House & Senate. The people we put into those seats make the real differences in our daily lives, and in the plans we make for our future. Question is, will enough people write/call/email their offices, or the campaigns of those running for office, to put real tax reform on the front burner. I plan to, as soon as I find that missing receipt.

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