Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Death by Taxes

     So I just finished filing my taxes for 2011. Let me tell you, filing taxes yourself isn't nearly as much fun as letting your dad file for you! I filed myself and am still scraping bits of my brain off the ceiling from the spontaneous combustion I suffered.  Luckily I’m still making money somewhere in the range that I get a nice little return on my taxes, and my summer job counted more as a ‘gift exchange’ so I didn't have to add that to my forms. Still, filing taxes is no piece of cake.

     Last year I waited until April 13th to turn my taxes in. (That’s cutting pretty close to the wire) I stressed about them and thought about them and worried starting at the end of February, all through March, and finally I took the time out of my busy schedule to hike to the Albany County Library where they do free taxes for University of Wyoming students. It was a pretty good deal, I just picked up a form, filled out the information I could, waited for an hour and a half for my turn to be helped by an accounting student. (See, the University set it up so the accounting students got extra practice in return for extra credit, and we got free taxes filed by semi-professionals!) It was easy and mostly painless, and it only took about 2 hours, considering waiting time and then the actual filing time.
     This year however, as I’m no longer a student they don’t offer free in-person tax services. You either pay to have someone do your taxes, pay for an online company to do your taxes, or bite the bullet and wade through the paperwork and thick instruction booklets to file yourself. Being the independent person that I am, I decided to wade through the verbiage and do taxes myself. After all, with only $5,200 dollars in adjusted gross income for 2011 how hard could it be?

     Well, pretty dang hard was my answer. I decided I’ve been babied the last four years or so, the first three I was making an income but my Dad filed for me as I was a dependant. Last year I filed my own, with the help of an accountant-in-training, no brainpower required. Filing in all the little boxes and cross-checking everything yourself is difficult, so difficult that I’m pretty sure the sound of my brain exploding was heard in Nebraska.

     I made it through the Federal Income Tax alright. Their forms are pretty simple and I’ve filled out a few W-2 forms that made going through this one a piece of cake. I got a little stuck trying to figure out where to e-file the form, there’s E-file and there’s FreeFile, I finally went with FreeFile, entered all my info, got hung up for 10 minutes trying to find my 2010 adjusted gross income so they could verify my information, finally e-signed it and clicked Submit. Success!

     Filing Utah State Income Tax, now that’s another story. I went to the library hoping to find some paperwork and someone to explain how to do stuff, and the nice librarian told me that all of the Utah Income Tax forms are online and I can either pay $1.20 to have them print off the forms and instruction booklet, or I can just do it online. Being broke, I opted to do it online. I had just scooted through the federal taxes so I happily clicked around on the Utah site, working to find out which tax form I needed and where to put it. I discovered it’s not so simple, I apparently need the TC-40 to fill out, I have to electronically submit both W-2’s, I need the TC-40W worksheet to see how much I actually paid, the TC-40A to make sure I was filling out the TC-40 right, and the instruction book (also available only online) to check my progress.

     So, in the midst of filling out the TC-40 and checking it against the W worksheet and adding line 6 through line 8 and subtracting that from line 4, I discovered Utah taxes are MUCH harder than the federal ones. I could barely keep the information straight! Add lines 16 and 17 then put that number in line 18. Now, times that by 5%, subtract that number from $2775, add some flying unicorns and put the entire answer on line 42. Once I’d entered everything from TC-40W on TC-40 lines 56 through 67, I discovered that the temp company that was paying me was actually registered in Texas, and all the taxes I paid to the state of Utah from my Wayfair job are applicable only in Texas. If that information is correct, I owe both Texas and Utah a hefty chunk of dough instead of getting a little bit of money back. Now does that seem right?

      I don’t know why Wyoming doesn’t have income taxes, maybe they do? If they do I don’t know about them, and I’m not going to see if I should have filed last year, the state government can track me down if they want to, all I know between the spinning rainbows and flying paperwork is that taxes make me sweaty, and I was off to take a shower. Goodbye to income taxes in Utah, I’ll try again later, maybe I’ll discover then that I should have added lines 15 and 16 instead of 19 and 20, and the employer ID is different from the resolution number. Whatever the case, Utah can keep their taxes, next year I’m hiring someone. 

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