Return to story
EVERY YEAR, my
It is, quite literally, the least fun two consenting adults can have together besides camping.
We would much rather cliff dive into a pit of untreated sewage teeming with genetically modified, man-eating jellyfish, but we are not GSA employees and therefore cannot afford such extravagance.
So we download TurboTax instead.
The word "turbo" in the product's name may be a bit of a misnomer as my husband managed to grow a full-length beard between the time we started and finished our latest tax filing.
Then again, I shudder to think what would've happened had we gone with the off-brand product TorpidTax.
I think part of the problem is that we attempt to do this sober every year. I don't recommend that.
Given that the tax code seems to have been written by someone in a supremely altered state, it makes perfect sense that one should experience it that way.
For instance, read this helpful excerpt from the Form 1040 instruction booklet:
Some dividends may be reported as qualified dividends in box 1b of Form 1099–DIV but are not qualified dividends. These include: Dividends attributable to periods totaling more than 366 days that you received on any share of preferred stock held for less than 91 days during the 181-day period that began 90 days before the ex-dividend date.
Now read it again after inhaling deeply at a Grateful Dead tribute concert.
So much better, right? I know.
As an aside, I always feel a little sorry for the dividends listed in box 1a of the 1099-DIV.
All year long, they cheerfully go about their business, doing whatever incredibly fascinating thing it is that dividends do, only to be told at the end of it all that they're "ordinary," while the dividends just to the right of them in box 1b are "qualified."
Hardly seems fair.
In any case, for our e-filing journey, my husband sits in the driver seat, pointing, clicking and cursing.
I sit next to him with stacks of W-2's, receipts and our 1099-A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y at the ready.
I've also got several carefully prepared spreadsheets listing every potential tax deduction we've accrued that year--none of which matters because you can't deduct that stuff unless line 29 of Form 8816 is less than 18 percent of the combined total of Schedule H line 5 and 1099-MISC line 14, which conveniently never happens.
Before we begin, my husband sticks a slip of paper over the top right corner of the computer screen to hide the box that will display a running total of our refund.
The number in the box will go up and down repeatedly over the next several hours, and if we don't cover it, we risk having our fragile hopes raised and dashed over and over again until we simply can't take it anymore and resort to slitting our wrists with IRS Form 1099-LTC, which is specifically designed for that purpose.
We spend the rest of the day contemplating lump-sum distributions, deferred compensation plans and vested benefits, which is made all the more difficult by the fact that we don't know what any of those things are.
After much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes, we finish the process and uncover the refund box to learn we're now $16.23 richer than when we started, just enough to buy a bottle of celebratory wine.
Because news like that, much like the tax code, is best enjoyed in an altered state.
Edie Gross: 540/374-5428