Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DIY Taxpayers Accept Defeat

We're caving in, biting the dust, waving the white flag, calling it quits... just shy of jumping off the cliff. It KILLS me to confess this:

Next year we're hiring a CPA to do our tax return.

You might shake your head & wonder what's the big deal. That's because you don't know us/me- 43 years married to the King of DIY and unwitting convert to the title Queen of DIY. Anyone who KNOWS us... I mean realllllly knows us... will appreciate the concession this represents & might just worry about our mental health. Spend money on something we can do ourselves, even if it kills us? IMPOSSIBLE!

15 years ago Turbo Tax brought relief to our annual self-inflicted manual torture. After the 1st year of transition into TT, April 15 wasn't as much hell as before. In the early '80s, I'd had 3 tax seasons working the Help line for the IRS, where I learned how to read the tortuous language of the publications & follow the maze to fill out a form. Compared to those challenges, TT's Query method was a breeze. But sometimes the Query was ambiguous. When I didn't know how to interpret a TT question, I'd try each interpretation, then find where on the tax return TT put my answer. The location of my answer on the tax return plus some familiarity with taxes & typical forms taught me how I was supposed to interpret that Query.  I'd then make a note about it in an ongoing README file I'd Save for each successive year. I confess that I was pretty proud of myself.

Mind you, TT did not save me from the frustrating weeks gathering & organizing the data about my micro handmade jewelry business. (Yes, torching & hammering metal can be a great stress reliever!) Beginning Inventory, Cost of Goods Sold, Ending Inventory, Manufacturing Supplies, Depreciation remain curse words to me from February through April 15. But after barely surviving the organizing of this data about my teeny, tiny business, TT enabled me to put it all on Schedule C.

BUT THIS YEAR TT HAD A BUG! Yes, I learned that my personal God-in-a-Box was flawed.

After barely surviving another annual organizing effort, TT's bug almost finished me off. It kept wanting to checkmark inappropriate things related to our retirement contributions & would not retain our corrections. I dug deep into TT's bowels of worksheets, "Data Source," & "About Line x" references, but could not find whatever hidden glitch forced these incorrect checkmarks. Amazingly, every IRS form TT filled out for us appeared to have correct data. So after 2 weeks of hair-pulling & family feuds, we crossed our fingers & efiled this *!%&$ return. BUT I was no longer a True Believer. I had lost my faith in my God-in-a box.

Tonight my husband & I celebrated our After-Tax Freedom with a huge steak dinner at Outback Steakhouse! The TT fiasco gave us the final reason to throw in the towel on DIY taxes. We decided we are too old (especially after this April fiasco) to waste 2-3 months stressing out over this stuff.

We're collecting names of good CPA's on Seattle's Eastside. There's only 1 problem. Do we dump a baggie full of stuff on his/her desk & say goodbye or what? We have absolutely no clue!


Nicole said...

I can understand your pains & frustrations. We used TT for a few years in the beginning. We tried a few others as well & settled on Tax Act. Never ever had any issues or glitches. There are many options to Turbo Tax out there & any one of them can be your new God-in-a-box ... As much as I wish my business would grow to the point I cant handle doing them myself anymore, I quite like how simple our lives are. Good luck in your search!

kim_wilton said...

I suffered from a similar but different glitch this year. Incorrect import of data from Fidelity. Fortunately, I did a manual review - it's an error TT would not be able to detect under any circumstance.

I did the taxes myself this year after a few years using an accountant. She's worth every penny!

Cheryl Z said...

NICOLE-- My business is mini-micro, which I have mixed feelings about. BUT I've got way too much inventory -- made & unmade, which means Inventory, which means nightmare at tax time, IMO.

KIM-- We too press a button & get Fidelity's downloads... so far all the right amounts into all the right forms (we think)! I HOPE YOU & OTHERS ON FB WHO MENTIONED THIS FAILURE WERE ALL OVER FIDELITY ASAP! They'd be VERY responsive to mass phonecalls!