Monday, April 04, 2005

#31 - Tax Relief

I haven't filed my returns so late in years. Really, since I got into using SpeedyTax, or TurboAudits, or whatever the heck software I'm using these days, I've been filing my returns as early in February as possible so I can get those crucial refunds into my atrophied checking account. ("Atrophied," I guess, is the wrong word. It gets plenty of exercise. "Emaciated" is, perhaps, a better fit.)

The problem is that, somehow, mysteriously, I wasn't able to find last year's file. You see, one of the real benefits of using the same software every year is that they can read last year's file directly into your current return. So, when they ask you all those Big Brother questions about what deduction you took in support of pygmy water buffalo research the previous year, you don't even have to look. The computer already knows all that.

The trouble, of course, is that last year's refunds bought last year's new computer. Now, I'm darned certain that I went through all the hoops of transferring all my files from the old machine to the new one. I am, after all, a techie in my professional life, and I know how to do such things. Still, when I installed the new tax software this year, you can imagine my panic when I was completely unable to find anything even remotely resembling last year's return. The panic grew when I was also unable to find my printed returns!

Anyone who knows me recognizes my genius for organization. My files are immaculate. This means that when I put a file away somewhere, it doesn't matter where because it will always be there. The trick is that I generally have absolutely no idea where "there" is from one year to the next. So, okay, I'm not a genius. In fact, I'm not organized enough to be the village idiot, so forget the "genius" line. You never heard that from me.

Needless to say, I searched high and low (and everywhere in between) for those files. Nothing. Mrs. Woody and I traditionally have that money spent (virtually, anyway) two or three months ahead of filing, so we really needed to get our taxes done. Soon.

In a true act of desperation, I turned to the IRS's web site for help. I was relieved to find that I could order a copy of my return for last year because I filed it electronically. Technology finally comes to the IRS! Glory be! I dialed the number listed on the web site, picked my way through their menus, and then began the real nail-biting stretch: They said the copy would be mailed anywhere from 10 to 14 business days later, and that would put me this close to April 15!

Fortunately, they lied. I got the copy sometime over the weekend and filed our returns last night.

I am, as you can imagine, relieved. I am also, as you might expect, chiselling my return directly onto my computer case, rather than rely on some ancient 6 month old magnetic media. I will also staple my paper copy directly to my stomach in a waterproof bag so I can keep it with me until next year. Or maybe I'll just burn a copy onto a CD and keep it in my lock box...

Nah. Where's the fun in that?

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