austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

She said, ``You don't understand what I said''

My annual tax report, I suppose: for the first time, I did them with the aid of tax-preparation software. I had a couple motives for this, one being that I knew there was some tax credit for buying a new car but I knew no further details about it, and trusted that the software would know how to get it. Then, too, my mother bought a MacBook Pro last year, so the Turbotax she bought this year was Mac-compatible, and she offered me the free use of the software. (She probably did this earlier years, but I shy away from chances to use Windows when I don't have to.) Most of all, though, the state of New Jersey decided not to send tax form blanks out to the libraries, so I would have had to actually go to their web site and download and print out the forms.

I found the experience pretty good, really. I think it took me more time than filling it out by hand would have, if I'd known just what to do for the new-car purchase, but the series of basic, easy-to-check, easy-to-verify questions worked pretty well. I also liked watching the ongoing changes of the estimated tax return (or bill) based on the answers-so-far. It added an element of game show to the process. Also I was gratified to see that in Turbotax's estimate my risk of a non-random audit is so low they have to actually extend the scale to the left to cover it; here's hoping they're right.

Ultimately, the state of New Jersey ended up owing me $32, while I owed the United States $43. The close convergence between what I actually owed and what I paid felt somehow anticlimactic. Yeah, yeah, it's not supposed to be better to have your money earning interest in your accounts rather than be an interest-free 'refund' loan to the government, but, I can't say I would gain much utility from the interest on $32. This is also the first time I've owed taxes to the United States (I routinely owed in Singapore, as they don't have withholding), although I was somehow able to cover that bill. That, too, was paid electronically because I fortunately remembered the routing number and checking account for my United States bank.

I expect next year my taxes will be tricker as I've finally got royalty income as well as side income to account for, but for now, huh. That was all painless enough. It's a little disconcerting to start Turbotax up (not for the first time, but for my final do-you-really-want-to-send-this check) on the 13th of April and have it downloading updates, though.

Trivia: Andrew Johnson was the first vice-president to take the Presidential Oath of Office the same day as the president's death. Source: From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession, John D Feerick.

Currently Reading: The Death Of A President: November 1963, William Manchester. All about, well, you can imagine, but written nearly contemporary to the event. Curiously the cover is mostly naval blue, with a few white flecks that might be scratches in the dust jacket, but are so artistically arranged --- and so missing from the top and bottom inch of the cover --- that I'm not sure it's not done for effect.


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