Let me tell you how it will be

There’s one for you, nineteen for me

 

Yeah, once a year whether I need it or not, I go through the fun and frivolity of doing my taxes, state and federal, both due (when we don’t have a pandemic) April 15.

 

I started my first professional (real) job two months before my mother died. That was back in 1977. I inherited her accountant, who she got from my dad. He was also my little league coach, so the relationship was already there. With the estate pending, having someone else do my taxes made sense. I used them for the last time for my 1980 taxes when probate finally was completed and I earned income in two states, in addition to dealing with the usual complexities of taxes.

 

After that, I did them myself. Having someone two thousand miles away made no sense. I didn’t want to go through the process of finding someone local to do them. Life was getting simpler, I could do them. It wasn’t too bad. There was no software for taxes, but I seemed to be able to handle it, though it seemed far more cumbersome and complex than someone of my modest means should have to deal with.

 

Eventually I found an ad for someone local who did taxes for a very reasonable rate. He turned out to be a true blessing. I’m guessing he’d been a tax accountant in a firm before retiring, and wanted a small business he could scale to the size he wanted each year. Just a guess, but he made my life so much easier, giving needed advice which always seemed to be right, and most important, was always accessible. Until he retired again.

 

A friend of mine recommended another local outfit, four or five people. A bit more expensive, but not bad. Year one it was fine. Year two, not quite so fine, year three it was time to consider alternatives. Actually, after year three, they got out of the business, but gave their clients to a seemingly well qualified successor. That one followed a similar trajectory, except of a shorter duration. Two years later I felt I needed an alternative. I felt I needed Turbo Tax.

 

So that was two years ago. That first year I had problems installing the software on my computer. It seemed that sometimes it thought I was doing my taxes on my own computer (which was my intent) but at other times it thought I was doing them on line. Fortunately, their tech support was available with right answers and got me through it. I generally cut a product some slack for a problem if they’re good and responsive at fixing it. So last year I used Turbo Tax again.

 

The installation went better, although I got the distinct feeling that I’d bought a higher level than I needed. In the end, probably not. But another issue I ran into was with my estimated payments which I’m required to file. Due to the pandemic, my charitable giving was up. I’d also had a rise in medical expenses, due largely to a dental implant. These were both unforeseen, but led to me receiving large refunds. The unintended consequence, however, was that Turbo Tax also assumed this would be my behavior going forward and cut my estimated payments way down.

This year I found my behavior had reverted to a more normal level, and my medical expenses went down. My taxes were WAY underpaid and I had a penalty. I could deal with that, but I wanted to see what had been calculated for prepayments before 

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finalizing things. I couldn’t find it in the Turbo Tax menu system. So again, I called tech support. The guy said sure I could find it. As it turned out, he was wrong. I had to finalize everything before I could find this important piece of information. I wasted over an hour on the phone for this. Bad programming (or business model) bad support.

 

Turbo Tax is also an unrelenting up seller. I was continually interrupted to be told I could upgrade to this level of support or that level of functionality or the other level of protection. Tell me once to make me aware, but after that, leave me alone. There were other issues this year as well, but suffice it to say that I’m not a happy customer. I’m not sure all my legitimate deductions were accounted for. I accepted that I owe the US Treasury an arm and a leg, and the State of California at least a couple of fingers. I pressed the file button, wrote checks, and licked my annual wounds. 

 

It all makes me wonder if H&R Block does things any better. Either in person or with their own program. My stuff can’t be all THAT complicated!

~ Quote of the Month ~

Hit ‘em where they ain’t. – Wee Willie Keeler

 

Keeler was only 5' 4" and 140 pounds but is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He played in the late 1800s and early 1900s, retiring as one of the greatest hitters ever, a distinction he holds to this day. In 1897 he hit .424, still a record for left-handed hitters. Yeah, he was undeniably great. When asked the secret of hitting, he gave his classic line, "Hit 'em where they ain't." Well duh.

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