February 11, 2007

What Tax Problem This Year?

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by dgcombs

Ah, tax season. Ya gotta love it.I remember when taxes were easy to do. My dad told me. You wrote down your income. You subtracted what you spent. If there was anything left you sent it to the guv’ment. He might have been exaggerating. Not that he would have calculated his taxes all wrong. I remember the year he took a shoe box full of paper, a tax form and an old adding machine (not a calculator mind you, an ADDING MACHINE) into his bedroom and didn’t come out until his eyes were bloodshot and his forehead was furrowed from running the numbers again and again. He was done with the taxes. But he still wasn’t happy. The guv’mentstill wanted their share.When I started doing the taxes, I used a cal cue lay tor. It didn’t make forking over all that dough any easier though. I fought through the Federal 1040 form one line at a time. Subtracting line 10 from line 9 and putting the result on line 11b. For years, I did this. By hand. And then computers happened.First I used Microsoft Money to track my expenses, taxable or not, and help Tax Cut figure out my taxes. It took twice as long to plow through the mountain of receipts and expenses and incomes and deductions as it did with the bare naked 1040 form. If computers can’t make it easy, I might as well go back to the old Burroughs hand crank adding machine.Then I used an online session with good old HR Block. That was almost as painful as doing it using the Tax Cut. I was fearful that the line would drop in the middle of calculating that crucial itemized deduction. Then there was that concern of have having my personal financial information online accessible by only a single password.Last year, I found the ideal solution. The old 1040 forms are now available as an Adobe PDF file. You can download it to your computer. You can update the lines. You can save your work. You can print off a copy. Now, this is the best of both worlds. And best of all, there’s no chance that my tax forms will be misunderstood because it’s all done by the computer and printer!And then I did the Georgia State taxes. I downloaded Adobe PDF state tax form 550. I loaded it up. Right at the top it says you can’t save your work. Rats! So I start slugging my way through the lines. At line 11 (which is divided into three parts: a, b and c. And then there is line 12. You are supposed to use line 12 ONLY if you used the standard deduction. You use line 11a if you used itemized deductions from the federal form. Well, I’m no dummy. I put my itemized deductions into line 11a. And just to make sure there were no misunderstandings, I put a zero in line 12. At the end I found would get a small amount back. That’s when all the trouble started.The Georgia Department of Revenue computer figured I was not putting in the proper amount for the standard deduction, and so it put it in for me. It also removed my erroneous entry on line 11a. You can’t use itemized deductions and standard deductions. Their computer then spit out a notice telling me that I owed them twenty-eight dollars. Wait just a sec!I sent e-mails. I made phone calls. I sent letters. I got no response. Finally, I went down to the DoR offices. A very nice young lady told me she saw where their computer had made its mistake. She let me know it might take them a few weeks to get back to me with a resolution. But since I had responded there wouldn’t be any further action. That was all I wanted.After waiting a very long time I finally got a notification that they recognized the error of their computer’s way. That I should not have used line 12. Please send them all my documentation for my deductions.After waiting a very long time again, I finally got a refund. But their calculation was slightly less than mine. After going through the figures one more time, I found out they had tossed out all the charitable donations I had included. I called, rechecked my figures, I e-mailed, I sent faxes. All I got was a check for a couple hundred less.After waiting a very long time again again, I finally found that Georgia has a Taxpayer’s advocacy office. So I e-mailed them. I told them I thought there was a systemic problem in the Department of Revenue. They never get back to the taxpayers! After waiting not such a long time, the advocate e-mailed me back and told me that the error had been corrected. I’d be getting a full refund.Now I have a check for the full refund. But I already deposited the check for the partial refund.No wonder my dad was always frustrated with his taxes. Here’s hoping this year is simpler!

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