The Tax Man Cometh

Here’s how 4/15 rolled for me this year.

    • Let’s set the stage. I didn’t get my taxes done last week because I was rushing to get to New York. I decided that wouldn’t be a problem I would get back on the 14th, so I had that evening to get them sorted. That was my first miscalculation: since I was up at 2AM PST to catch my plane back from New York, by the time I got home from work that night, I was running into walls I was so tired. Scratch getting them done Monday night.


  • Panic: how was I going to get my taxes done and to the post office on Tuesday by 5PM when I had to be at work all day?



  • Relief: e-file, that’s how. I’d start ’em over lunch and e-file by midnight.



  • Panic: I got to work on Tuesday and realized I’ve left my W-2 at home so I could only load TaxCut on my laptop at work but not actually do any of the tax entry. Deep breath.



  • Relief: Got home early, got sorted out, ready to roll.



  • Panic: After getting through my federal taxes and moving on to my state returns, it turns out I’m married. Even though I have never been married, the status has not generally struck me as something that creeps up on you so I do a little light research. R and I are Registered Domestic Partners (or RDP, in the catchy parlance of our government) in the state of California. As of last year, that means that in the eyes of the (state) law, we are effectively married and have to file as such. Aside from the emotional repercussions – what did I wear? did I register? – I now have a problem at 8PM. TaxCut populates my state taxes using my federal tax info and my federal tax info says I’m single. But in California, I’m not. While I appreciate the health insurance being an RDP entitles me to, it’s annoying that my crunchy granola state and my fascist (for now) national government can’t get on the same page. Especially at 8PM on the 15th.



  • Relief (tiny). It appears there is a workaround. If I save a copy of my accurate federal return (the one I will file that says I’m single), I can create an inaccurate one saying I’m married that can be used as the basis of the state one. This strikes me as encouraging lying and criminality on the part of H&R Block but whatever. It’s getting late.



  • Panic. I do as I’m told, re-do everything, save my screwy second version of my tax returns and am all set to file. But no. What was I thinking? Of course, no. I cannot e-file a federal return that says I’m single (accurate) and a state return that says I’m married (also accurate). This is the software’s way of encouraging me to get with the conservative agenda and pick a lane.



  • Relief. I’m wily. The software wants me to e-file both state and federal in one transaction. I decide to e-file my federal and state separately using the two separate but equally accurate files. Clever, right?  Right hand doesn’t know what left hand’s doing, right? So far so good: I make it to the e-file screen on the federal taxes.



  • Panic. I can no longer locate the Key Code that came with my tax software and that is required to get through the e-file screens. Where is it? Printed on the sleeve that the software came in. The software that I installed at the office. The sleeve that I stacked with some other papers to come home with me from said office but which, after a thorough search of the home premises, I cannot locate at 9PM.



  • Resignation. I get in the car in my pajamas and head to the office.



  • Relief. I find the sleeve, drive home and e-file my federal return without further glitches. The finish line in sight, I get some ice cream and start on the state filing.



  • Panic. Not so fast: for reasons passing understanding, you can’t e-file your state taxes separately from your federal until the federales approve your federal ones. And I’m guessing that won’t happen at 10PM on the 15th. I give up. I start Googling penalties for late filing.



  • Resurrection. I’m nothing if not stubborn and I’ll be damned if the IRS and H&R Block are going to both get the better of me in one night. That’d be a bit much for anyone, I’d think. I find the California State Franchise Tax Board web site which looks like it was put together in 1982 by a bunch of seven-year-olds with an Etch-a-Sketch and one orange crayon. Using my print-out of the un-file-able TaxCut state return, a spoon and some cunning, I manage to get through all the screens and get within $50 of the result TaxCut spit out. This site requires no oversight by the federales and lets me submit my state taxes. I do not have a warm fuzzy feeling because the site is so amateur it feels like I’ve just sent the Crown Jewels overnight using a plain envelope, some twine and the post office, but whatever: I am a tax-filing, law-abiding, married/single citizen once more.


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Categories: News, Nuisance, Miscellany, San Francisco (here)


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One Comment on “The Tax Man Cometh”

  1. molly
    May 10, 2008 at 2:56 pm #

    this cracked me up! we had a similar roller coaster ride this year…i finally went to bed and ryan e-filed with a wing and a prayer!

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