By Danielle Wilson
I, being the frugal know-it-all, decided that instead of paying a certified public accountant my hard-earned dough, I would do the taxes myself. How hard could it be? I’m a math teacher after all, and I’d be saving us something like $600.
That was my recent weekend, and here again I slouch, having just spent another four hours oscillating between pulling my hair out and stymieing the urge to drink heavily. (Unfortunately, it’s Lent and I gave up drinking heavily!) Why does filling out a tax return, an annual exercise required of every working American, feel like a combined final exam for forensic criminology and Advanced Placement statistics? Seriously, my desk looks like I’ve just pulled an all-nighter cramming for my dissertation defense with files and folders and fiber bar wrappers and half-emptied cups of stale coffee. Is that a can of Skoal? Oh sweet mercy, I am losing my fashizite! And I’m nowhere near being finished. Even scarier, I honestly don’t even know if I’m doing this correctly.
Sure, Turbo Tax walks you through the process step by step, but reconciling what’s on my computer screen with my personal paper jungle of a year’s worth of receipts and forms is a whole ‘nother can of worms. Worst of all, I have a very pronounced “Taxes Owed” in red mocking my every input from the top of the screen. Even after I enter charitable deductions, Doo’s work expenses and individual retirement account contributions, the obnoxious number does not shrink. WHY DOESN’T IT SHRINK? I did make one important discover yesterday, which hopefully will put a dent in that awful figure. Our mortgage company has not sent us a form 1098 for interest paid in 2011 (that’s probably a lie; the form may very well be lying on my desk, perhaps under the Skoal?), and apparently, that’s a huge deduction. So there is hope we won’t end up in a debtor’s prison or on our way to Finland to evade taxes.
But I’m not a CPA with years of experience; I am most certainly missing a couple of exemptions and deductions and maybe even a rollover or two. So yes, I might be saving Doo and I some cash, but how much would our CPA have saved us in taxes due? In emotional distress? Whose stupid idea was this anyway? Peace out.