Don’t you just hate getting your taxes done? I do. I have a degree in accounting, but chose not to pursue that career specifically because I HATE doing taxes. Notice that was a capital HATE? During my senior year in college, I had an internship at an accounting firm during tax season and all I did was taxes….it was in the era before computerized taxes, and yet, it’s never made a difference. Every year I fret about doing them, and started having H & R Block do them many years ago when we filed with itemized deductions. It was way too stressful for me, and I was always relieved when they were done. Last year we filed the short form, but with Schedule A & B, and they charged us over $400 to do them. I decided it might be time for a change. So this year, we were in our local library, and they had a sign up that said they would do our taxes for us for free. You know when you think something’s too good to be true, it almost always is……this was definitely the case. We had a college student do them, and at first, I wasn’t concerned, because the student said that their “supervisor” would look over everything he did, to ensure nothing was wrong. We have one packet of information that is confusing, and was frankly, that packet is the sole reason I couldn’t handle doing the taxes myself. The student looked a little bewildered, until he went to his “supervisor”….and the supervisor said, “Just ignore that.” I brought our last year’s return with us, and I knew that the person who’d done our taxes in the past hadn’t “ignored it,” as she made check marks for every number she applied to our tax return…and there were a lot of check marks. I waited until the student was done and the “supervisor” came over to look at our return, before asking any questions. The “supervisor’s” first question to us was “What is Rich’s social security number?” We told him what it was, and then he asked if we had any way to verify it…Like what? Here’s last year’s tax return with it…”No, do you carry your social security card?” Really…who carries their social security card now? After looking over several documents, he finally gave up on the social security number issue…I have no idea what the problem was that he wouldn’t take last year’s tax return as verification, but he didn’t like doing it….and that’s when I started to fret.
So then came the form that he told the student to ignore. I showed him last year’s tax return and all of the check marks the last preparer had made, and then he decided he needed to do something with it. He had the student input a lot of numbers and in the end, the “supervisor” told us we owed the state some money but we could just send them extra money sometime this year..WHAT? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it works that way. Normally, you know exactly how much to pay the state and you write them a check before the 15th of April…He didn’t even tell us if he filed a state return..I’m sitting here fretting about what a mess I’ve created by assuming these people actually knew what they were doing, when clearly they did not. I guess tomorrow I’ll make an appointment with a friend who works at a bookkeeping service, and see if they would be willing to look over the mess that I’ve got, to determine what the heck is going on, and at this point the $400 I paid last year feels like it might have been a bargain. At least I knew how much I needed to pay the state when I left their offices.
Note to self, don’t ever assume someone knows how to do taxes just because they say they do…clearly today was a great example of free actually comes at a price…..darn it.