The Amend Corner

It gets taxing at the deadline

By Don Amend
Posted 4/26/22

I  was planning to finish up my medical adventure story in this column, but I changed my mind.  

Two factors have led to my making this change. First of all, last week began with the …

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The Amend Corner

It gets taxing at the deadline

Posted

I  was planning to finish up my medical adventure story in this column, but I changed my mind.  

Two factors have led to my making this change. First of all, last week began with the deadline for submitting my income tax return to Uncle Sam, and this week began with my birthday. It occurred to me that this was a rare event that needed to be observed, if only by me. That’s especially true of that tax thing, because I nearly became delinquent in filing my 1040 form, something that had never happened before, spoiling a record streak of over half a century.

Fortunately, the day was saved by my wife, whose dedication enabled an 11th hour (really!) electronic submission proving to the government that I’m an honest American.

Now, I want to make it clear that this is not an anti-tax rant. I don’t actually enjoy paying taxes, but I know they are necessary in a civil society. I could write a whole catalog of things taxes pay for, and most of them are important to our well-being, whether we like it or not. So I’m happy to pay my taxes and think everybody should be happy as well.

But back to the adventure, which begins with the purchase of an application that helps you do your taxes on your computer and file them online. I’ve used this program for several years and, while it sometimes drives me crazy, it always works out in the end. One of its features is that it will hunt for last year’s 1040 that you saved on your computer and transfer all the pertinent information, like your name and marital status, from that form to a new one. 

I discovered, though, that the program couldn’t find last year’s 1040. That meant I had to enter my name, marital status and other stuff myself, but that was no problem, because it’s something I know by heart. However, I still had a feeling this might be a problem.

Since I like to simplify the process, I skipped over the part about deductions that are supposed to lower your tax bill.  I have done that in recent years because I have discovered that adding all the sums I donate to churches, colleges and other charities usually comes pretty close to the standard deduction to which everyone is entitled. Occasionally, I have made enough contributions that I could save a few bucks on my taxes, but usually it isn’t enough to make a difference. The only thing it does is tell me that I should probably be more generous in the name God, America, education and helping those who need it.

But this year, I didn’t even look at deductions. I just let the computer do the math and fill in the forms and prepared to send the documents to Uncle Sam over that mysterious network of computers known as the internet. I was in plenty of time, since it was only a little after 9 p.m.

It was then that I ran into a problem. The computer that receives my 1040 has to identity me to make sure I am the right taxpayer to file the return. It does that by requesting a particular number from last year’s return. If I type in the correct number, the computer will take the return.

Unfortunately, I had no idea what that number was, and, as I noted above, the company couldn’t find my return. Failure to have the number meant I would have to wait until Tuesday and mail my return, which would then, to my shame, be late. I made several panic-fueled searches of my hard drive, and finally gave up. Fortunately, my wife did not.  She fumbled through every file on the hard drive before finding one with an odd file name. It turned out to be the missing file, and it had the number I needed. Within minutes, I shipped my return off at 11:30 p.m., half an hour before April 18 ended the deadline day for submitting it, much to my relief.

Now, as for that birthday thing. I usually don’t reveal when my birthday is, but in recent years, I’ve been using it as a milestone I want to reach before the banshee wails at my door. When it’s over, I set a new milestone, like, say a summer visit to or from grandkids, and after that . . .well,  you get the idea. Anyway, there are several books I need to read and a lot of music to listen to before I hear that bell tolling, and I’m already looking forward to next April.

I plan to file earlier next year; I know that because my wife says so.

The Amend Corner

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