Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A tax sting operation

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but last year, I filed state tax returns in NINETEEN states. By hand.

And it was fun. Yeah, I said it. Fun.

I went to an accountant, to see what she had to say about it. She was actually pretty helpful--she photocopied state filing requirements for me out of this book she had around. That saved me some time, which was nice, but she declined to take on my problem -- or charge me for the hour of help she gave me.

Instead, I went to each state's department of revenue site over the course of a couple weeks, printing out the right forms. Then I gathered up my paperwork and headed over to my future mother-in-law's place. She was going to help Fiance with his taxes (she and her husband use TurboTax and aren't averse to sharing) and volunteered to assist in my herculaean task.

Five hours later, as we had an array of paperwork spread across her kitchen table, readying them to be sent, she was as chipper and cheerful as the instant we got started.

As for the sting mentioned in my title? Okay, mostly hyperbole. But the states that gave me the most trouble:
Ohio (HORRIBLE. WORST TAX FORMS EVER. They actually hit me with a $300 tax bill six months later, which was more than I EARNED in Ohio, and it was a huge fight to get it corrected. Bah!)
Utah (Just because they accidentally sent my resident taxes there instead of my actual state. That was a pain getting sorted out.)

So, they lose.
Winners (for coherent tax forms and reasonable instructions):
North Carolina
Massachusetts (believe it or not!)
Pennsylvania (The only state whom I neither owed nor received a refund from.)

This year, Fiance and I bought and used TurboTax (FMIL is in Florida for the winter, so we couldn't batten on her software this year) and we've both received our modest refunds. And I wish we hadn't. Sure, we both had a few complicated touches, but nothing I couldn't have figured out. TurboTax took care of it in just under an hour each.

But where's the fun in that?


James said...

If you don't mind my asking, how did you need to file in 19 states? Thats over the top!

Ellen said...

I don't mind you asking at all! I had a job as a production assistant on a music tour, and instead of paying us from a central location, as would seem reasonable, they insisted on issuing a paycheck to us from each. individual. venue. that we worked at. It was good times, I tell you what!