June 20, 2007

It's (past) that time again

I've spent the past few days performing a unifying experience fundamental to democracy and the rule of law. I joined almost two hundred million people carrying out this vital obligation, albeit a little late. Ha ha ha. At least that is how the Commissioner of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service describes my delightful experience.

I finished my tax return. Yes, Uncle Sam can find you anywhere - although my tax instruction book (1/2 inch thick) was delivered on April 16. At least I can say that it ended delightfully − I don't owe any taxes again this year. Not so delightful in that we would be considered, at least income-wise, way below the national poverty level (U.S., not Honduran). Gone are the days where the tax return was the size of a small book and had to be mailed in a 9 x 12 inch envelope.

It is amazing that you can have almost no income, owe no taxes, and still spend hours adding the line 5 zero to the line 6 zero, carrying it to line 14 on another page where you determine which zero is smaller and multiply it by 5%, and then carry your zero back to a third page.

I confidently typed in my capital loss carryforward number from last year's tax return and then discovered that the instructions included a 15-line worksheet that needed to be used to calculate the "real" carryforward number. So after adding, subtracting, picking up this number and that, comparing numbers, and changing negative numbers to positive, the result? The number I knew it to be to start with. Who comes up with all that stuff? Must be attorneys, not accountants.

I'm not entirely sure if I even need to file a tax return, except that I have a huge capital gains loss carryover which I don't want to take any chances of losing. One of these days, I'm going to need that big time! (I bought MO at $20.)

I screwed up, though. I was thinking that the automatic extension for those living overseas was four months. Oops, it was only two months and the tax return was due last Friday. One year, I completely forgot to do my tax return! I sent two years in together and never heard a word about it.

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