Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The cruelest month

I'm relieved that I finished my taxes last night, just in time.

After defiantly filling out ever-more-complex paper forms for past tax years, last year I finally started using TurboTax, which has eased matters considerably. As someone who does freelance work -- mostly playing music, and writing in previous years -- I file the ever-popular Schedule C. And although I have filled out that form before, TurboTax does a much better job.

I started working on my taxes weeks ago, and things were going smoothly with TurboTax, as usual. But when it came time to fill out the Wisconsin form, the program told me I might need to fill out Schedule I, which bears this pithy title: "Adjustments to Convert 2006 Federal Adjusted Gross Income and Itemized Deductions to the Amounts Allowable for Wisconsin." Then TurboTax flashed the form in its entirety on the screen, and encouraged me to get cracking.

Now, I thought the point of TurboTax was that it asks simple questions in plain language, and then fills out the forms for us. If all it does is throw up actual tax forms for us to fill out, then what are we paying for? Schedule I intimidated me, so I ceased working on my taxes until last night.

I returned to Schedule I last night, and even downloaded the instructions for the form from the Wisconsin department of revenue's Web site. The instructions begin with these sonorous phrases:
INTRODUCTION – Generally, the Wisconsin Statutes require that the computation of taxable income on the 2006 Wisconsin income tax return is to be based on the Internal Revenue Code enacted as of December 31, 2004. Changes made to the Internal Revenue Code enacted after December 31, 2004, do not apply for Wisconsin income tax purposes.
Is that even English? More to the point, do those words seem particularly introductory? I'm sure my CPA readers are amused that I struggle to read that, but to me, the words all run together.

After some contemplation, I decided I didn't need to fill out Schedule I, and then I was all but finished with my taxes for another dreary April.

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