My yearly rant about how complicated income taxes are is just a bit louder this year. I will freely admit that part of the problem is usually my lousy bookkeeping during the year. This requires several hours of time digging out and categorizing all the receipts, calculating all the mileage for my business, and all those kinds of things before I can actually start the tax preparation.
This year, however, tax preparation has hit a new low. And at least part of it is the fault of TurboTax. I've done our taxes using TurboTax for probably at least 8 or 9 years, so I'm not new to this program at all. As soon as I started using this year's version, I realized it wasn't as user-friendly as it had been in years past. It was harder to navigate through the options, harder to go back and review some area you'd already worked on, and just seemed generally more difficult to understand.
But I kept on plowing through and thought I was nearly done by Monday. Some of TurboTax's figures didn't look quite right to me, especially the credits for college expenses, which seemed rather low. However, TurboTax knows better than me, right??? Or so I thought.....
On Tuesday night, I remembered one more small donation we'd made -- only $100 -- so I plugged that figure in and went to bed. Wednesday morning (yes, the 15th -- I was really pushing that deadline!!), I hit the "print" button, and up popped a message saying my return showed five errors...... sigh....... One was just a needed notation for the $100 addition; two others were minor things; and then up came the education tax credit with two errors. I couldn't figure out what on earth was going on, so I decided to get back into the program in-depth and try to figure out what the problem was. As I was reviewing the "interview" (TurboTax asks bunches of questions to help determine your status on each deduction), I found that TurboTax, for some strange, unknown and totally random reason, had marked both of my older daughters as having received convictions for drug use, possession or trafficking!! WHAT???? Where on earth did it come up with that crazy idea??
Now I was getting angry and frustrated. It was already noon on tax day, and I was still fighting with this stupid program -- I just wanted it to be OVER. I unclicked the "drug convictions" boxes and re-ran the error check. And all of a sudden, my tax refund went from $400 to over $2,300! Again, WHAT???? How did that happen? How do I know if it's right or wrong? I ccouldn't file THAT -- I wouldn't even be able to sleep knowing that I filed that kind of paperwork, possibly in error.
So what happened after those hours and hours and hours of work and frustration??? We ended up filing extensions of time! How ridiculous is that?
I know my taxes are a bit more complicated than many people's, because of having two kids in college, plus a small home business. However, there's no reason on earth that it should take HOURS of my limited time, incredible aggravation and 30 pages of returns and "supporting documentation" to file income taxes, especially for a tax refund. I heard on the radio yesterday that it took the "average tax payer" 26 hours to prepare their taxes this year. Something is really wrong with a system like this, when the average person, trying to be honest and do the right thing, can't relax and file their taxes without feeling like it's possible they've made a huge mistake somewhere along the line and that the government will "get them" in the future.
I think I need to join those people who were at those "Tea Party" protests on Wednesday!! Yes, I'm fed up with how much we're being taxed, but I'm even MORE fed up with a system so complicated, inept and convoluted.
Just my rant for the day.......
(And with my hubby's permission, I am NOT even going to think about taxes again for at least one week! Maybe by then, I will have calmed down a bit and can work on the taxes again a bit more rationally.)
Until then, I wish you many happy "returns"!!! (oh, yes, I'm feeling very "punny"!!)