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Just sharpen your pencil and the numbers will magically fall into place. Or not.
Just sharpen your pencil and the numbers will magically fall into place. Or not.

When tax forms make grown women cry

I have come to a point in my life where I feel like I should really have my "stuff" together. I'm not in college, I'm approaching 30, I have a full time job, a car loan, rent, etc. and I feel like I should really be on top of my game in all life's aspects. A small fraction of the time I do feel that way, but then tax season hits and I become a bumbling moron.

Actually, that's not true. I really become an expert procrastinator. I hate doing taxes. It's like my worst high school math class nightmare. I instantly break out in a cold sweat, biting my cuticles and wishing I had someone to cheat off of. I hated doing taxes when I only had one W2 to fill out and the whole process took no more than an hour, but 2010 was a whole new story.

I had a number of W2s from 2010 and a couple 1099 variations, that I'm now fairly certain were made up for the enjoyment of the IRS to keep track of how many times I Googled "how to file multiple versions of 1099 forms for Dummies." It's a joke. I've used Turbo Tax for years. They spell this stuff out exactly the way I need it, like I'm five years old. There are nice little pictures to help you with your word association. "Oh, there is a house by the part that asks about home ownership... That makes sense!"

I like that there are easy to answer questions. Like my taxes are doing the work to get to know me, not the other way around. "Come on, 1040, can't you at least buy me dinner before you totally screw me over?" But after realizing that Turbo Tax and its numerous copy cats are all a bunch of rip off (setting you up to think you can file for free, then hitting you with a ridiculous fee to complete your state return) I was highly motivated to do my own taxes this year. That's what strong, independent women like me do, right?

Upon discovering I had less than a week to complete said taxes, the first thing this strong, independent woman did was call her mom and dad. They seem to know how to fix almost everything else, why not this? Well, once again, when you have one straight forward W2 you've got it made. The minute your forms start piling up like a small paperback written in a foreign language, it's time for some reinforcements.

Upon arriving home, my roommate found me, for the second time this week, in tears over my tax forms. "Oh no, are you OK? Is it the taxes again?"

Before I had a chance to really respond, she was gone and back with a glass of wine and a deeply concerned look on her face. I blubbered something to her about not finding the right form for my miscellaneous income and, though I know she wanted nothing more than to sit on the couch and think about anything but someone else's taxes, she stuck with me, doing her best not to blurt out how slothful it was of me to wait till the last minute to start this. We both knew it was true; there was no need to say it out loud.

Come the end of the week the situation felt dire. I was ready to give up and head over to the nearest tax preparer and promise them my first born just to get this off my plate and out of my life for another year. Independent woman or not, I couldn't take it anymore. I was stressed and acting out like a toddler. This was getting personal. I was trying to do the adult thing and do my taxes myself, file before the deadline and even grin and bear it if I owed, but I felt like this was a battle I couldn't win because all the odds were against me. Accountants, tax lawyers and white-collar criminals may understand the language on Schedule XYZ. I don't.

After all of this drama in my life I've come to a few conclusions. The IRS is definitely in bed with all the H & R Blocks and Turbo Taxes of the world. There is no way that humans have figured out how to tweet from space, make 64 calorie beer and grow other humans in petri dishes, and yet the IRS cannot hire some modern day computer nerds to create easy to use tax software so we Americans can file our taxes, FOR FREE, without wanting to kill ourselves.

Since my W2 and 1099 info was already transmitted to the IRS from my employers, why can't they figure out my stinkin' taxes and send me a bill?

I'm celebrating my completed taxes on Friday with a trip to Spin to celebrate a coworker's birthday. Maybe smashing a couple ping pong balls will alleviate any lasting pent up stress from this week.

This week's blog is dedicated to my roommate, her endless encouragement in the form of red wine and reassurance that I'm not as stupid as I feel and, of course, to my parents, who year after year get roped into helping me with such matters even though year after year I vow "never again!"

 

Talkbacks

ButterBurger | April 18, 2011 at 11:52 a.m. (report)

35957 I'm not a poindexter CPA, but I'll crunch your numbers. ;-)

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Massaconsin | April 15, 2011 at 5:59 p.m. (report)

Agree with CPA. Also, you're lovely but please stop whining and get a grip. If you're stressed out because you've waiting too long then tough rocks, it's your own fault. Taxes are very stressful, but there are a lot people out there who have a bigger problem than you come tax time. Grow up.

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cpajc | April 15, 2011 at 3:43 p.m. (report)

As a CPA nearing the end of tax season (and my sanity) I sympathize with your situation. Doing you own taxes can give you a feeling of empowerment or cause much frustration, tears and an alcohol problem. My suggestion is to ask your friends, coworkers, family members if they use a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). All of our clients have come to us based on referrals and they keep coming back because we provide value for the money they are spending. We spend a lot of hours reviewing new tax laws that could potentially benefit our clients. We not only prepare your taxes for last year but help you prepare for next year.

Save yourself a lot of grief and pay someone else to stress about your taxes.

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