Can you help me understand why it is necessary to tax me on my tax refund?
“When it comes to taxes, there are two types of people. There are those that get it done early, also known as psychopaths, and then the rest of us.” – Jimmy Kimmel
America. Land of the free, home of the brave. And haven for the taxed.
For the record, although I’m about to yammer on about taxes, this is not a political post. It is not a post about my feelings on either political party. It’s simply my random thoughts, some of which are likely incorrect or inaccurate, on tax season. So while I appreciate all comments on my blog and an individuals right to his or her own opinion, don’t make this about politics. Spare us all! After all, the media does a good enough job of doing that day in and day out on even the most mundane and barely newsworthy story-lines.
Back to taxes. Easy…easy…your enthusiasm is overwhelming.
Doing your taxes is a necessary headache that most of us get to do (or have someone do for us) annually for earning an income in the USA. ‘Merica. Hell yes.
This tax season was just like any other. Gather up ye tax forms and documents and embrace the pain and torture of the several hours it will take you to file those returns with fingers crossed that you’ve claimed the correct withholdings, didn’t make too much income to send you soaring into a new tax bracket, and that you don’t have to cut a check to Uncle Sam at the end of it. All the while knowing that the hours spent doing your taxes will ultimately add absolutely no value to your life (other than maybe not being subject to tax fraud or flagged by the IRS – major life goals right there) and that those hours are those in which you will wish you could have back.
It’s not unlike that feeling you experience when you go to see the movie, Manchester By the Sea, with high hopes because of its critical acclaim and leave the theater several hours later wondering what in the hell you just watched and why its ratings were so high. Let’s be honest, Casey Affleck was fantastic in that movie, yet I still have no earthly idea what happened in the movie or if there was a plot or even a legitimate ending. I just know it was dark and depressing, some chick that was in it for 11 minutes and maybe 103 words was nominated for an Oscar, and that it’s a few hours of my life that I would like back.
I do my own taxes. With a cold craft beer on hand. My MacBook Pro that is barely functioning. A stellar playlist. Criminal Minds reruns playing in the background. And some snacks. Seriously. I guess I like a little self torture. With a side of craft. The only thing missing was some delicious Red Orchids take out. There’s always next year. (I sincerely hope that my friend Nicole’s dad reads this post simply for the beer comment – and if you are reading, sometimes it is a Stone!)
As much as one can, I was looking forward to a few items this tax season. One was that I didn’t move so I only had to file in one state and didn’t have to go through all of the relocation mumbo jumbo – for which, by the way, there is no science to doing, given they tell you that your “move date” can be one of about 72 options, none of which generate a positive return on your tax situation…trust me, I’ve tried them all and it’s essentially a legal scam. Pick your poison I suppose. I was also pretty stoked about having only a single employer – woohoo – and only one W2. Three cheers for small tax victories.
Or so I thought. I actually received a W2 from my former employer – for whom I have not worked for since May of 2015…yes, 2015 – a W2 that said I earned $0 of income. Thank you for the update and what an utter waste of labor, paper, and postage to process and send me that form. They must be doing nominally better financially since I left. Word. I actually entered the data from the $0 W2 of my former employer and got through the entire filing process. They sent it, so the IRS certainly got a copy of it, however that works, and I wasn’t about to risk it and not add it in there. Upon trying to submit and filing my forms I received an error saying that I had a W2 with $0 and that I could not proceed until that was removed. Of course. How unbelievably efficient.
Perhaps my least favorite part of filing taxes is being taxed on my tax refund from the previous year. It’s like being sucker punched or rather like being stabbed in the back of the knee after being gruesomely attacked by a bear and surviving in the wilderness during he fur trade era for eons with a rusty blade by some crazed lunatic who cannot let it go that you are still alive. Guess that movie reference. This feeling is especially when the refund is less than a couple hundred dollars. Because that makes total sense. I mean I get that the goal is to claim the appropriate withholdings for your individual tax situation so that at he end of the year you don’t owe anything and you don’t receive a refund. I get that. I get that the federal and state governments have no desire to cut a refund check to individuals.
I get it.
But here’s a thought. Rather than tax me on my tax refund – you know, on the income that I worked my ass off for and earned, no less – how about don’t make your system so friggen complicated that no one can figure out the “science” of it to the point where they get the refund only to have to spend entirely too much time entering that information on your next years return so it can then be taxed again. Where is the logic in that nonsense. I mean hell the US government is already billions of dollars in debt, so how about you just write off my tax refund for me. Please and thank you. I bet you could even save some money on payroll by shifting your IRS auditors to part-time status if you’d simply simplify (ha) your system, thus requiring fewer audits. I’m fine with filing taxes (as fine as one can be) – what else would we be doing January through April 15th of each year – because I understand that’s how our economic system functions. But keep it simple and exercise a little logic when developing the system. Please and thank you.
I’m a process person – just ask my former team and colleagues who had to suffer through my OCD process crafting tendencies and Visio flow charts for years (deep, deep down they loved it) – and I have an intolerance and natural disdain for inefficiency (to my current employer, brace yourself and my apologies to you in advance). A former HR VP of mine that I utterly respect said those very words to me and I took it as a massive compliment. Putting that out there so you know I mean business. Ha. Completing and filing a tax return might be one of the most inefficient and absurd process I’ve ever seen. And the fact that we just go about our day and do it like a herd of kittens lining up for the food line sends me into a giddy tailspin (hence the beer and snacks).
Why do I suffer and do my own taxes? Because of the entertainment I get from software like Turbo Tax. Turbo Tax actually pokes fun at the absurdity of the process as you go through it – and who doesn’t love that. Turbo Tax is like the Southwest Airlines of tax software. They know the act of doing the service they provide isn’t the most enjoyable experience (hey, some people hate flying and being stuffed into a small cabin with 309 strangers and recycled air…I don’t), and that it’s a necessary element of life for most, so they poke fun at it, keep the mood light, and don’t take shit so seriously. And they manage to not drag helpless (and apparently unconscious) individuals off their oversold flights (or the tax filing equivalent of that shit show – sorry, I couldn’t help myself). I smell a new Turbo Tax marketing campaign. You are welcome Turbo Tax.
But the filing process – Fix it, please!! I’m assuming this cry for reform will go totally unnoticed…don’t worry I laughed as I wrote that. But honestly, I will never understand why logic is so underutilized. I guarantee that if whomever came up with this system had applied some logic, it would only take us an hour to do our taxes. Max. And then, crazy thought, more people might actually do them AND (I’m getting wild here) do them correctly. Just saying. Oh, a girl can dream.
I’m happy to report that I did survive the pain and suffering with minimal damage and filed both my state and federal taxes before the deadline, of course, ending up with a return which I will no doubt be taxed on next year.
Because logic almost never wins!