A taxing affair | VailDaily.com

A taxing affair

John Poole
Vail CO, Colorado

I hope all your deductions have been itemized, houses depreciated, earned income credits summed, and alternative minimum tax calculated because Uncle Sam is sharpening his pencil and rigorously preparing to dive headfirst into a bazillion or so tax returns.

I think I’d rather be struck several times on the forehead with a cinder block than have a stack of thousands of tax returns on my desk with the job of checking every deduction and credit taxpayers are trying to finagle out of their tax bill.

They don’t really check them do they?

I suppose someone has to at least look at the inflated return number on every form. That would be a “taxing” task without having to re-calculate anything.

My assumption has always been that the IRS pretty much rubber stamps every return unless they see a “red flag.”

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And what would these red flags happen to be? I don’t know for sure and I doubt anybody who does will tell you, but if you’re claiming two golden retrievers as dependents while writing off your Beemer as a business expense and saying your roommate was tragically displaced by Hurricane Katrina, I think the eyebrows of Mr. Taxman may slightly rise.

Tax season is always extra special for me since my birthday falls one day before the infamous deadline of April 15. Over the years, my birthday has changed from a day of hideous cones on my head to grueling calculations of adjusted gross income. I still don’t know which one is better. I now slop birthday cake all over Form 1040 and Schedule A instead of the shoe of my third-grade classmate.

Again, I don’t know which one is better.

This year I was introduced to the seductive world of not only electronic calculation, but electronic filing. Evidently you can key in all your info and fire your return off into cyberspace instead of adding lines 7 through 14b, subtracting line 20 from line 15, stuffing every financial document ever received (relevant or not) into an envelope and making a heroic dash to the one post office that is open until midnight on tax day.

I somehow missed this marvel of modern technology ” until this year.

If TurboTax could have walked me through my calculus exams in college I never would have had to “try again” the next semester.

Tax software could get an infant to file the return of Don Trump.

At one point it asked me, “Are you sure you want to do this? You’re giving away free money!” It was quite a heated exchange, but after thorough discussion and a few rounds of cocktails, we came to the agreement that I had a very weak argument.

At another point of discussion, Mr. Tax Software asked me if I had bought any items in 2006 that would help me manage my finances. My mind raced with possibilities. X-Box? Flight to Vegas? Bottle of Patron?

I couldn’t quite justify these but I did buy a computer.

“What percentage of use of this item is devoted to financial management?” The choices were 25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent, and 100 percent.

Gulp. Sweat poured off my forehead as I clicked 25 percent. I will admit that this was a generous estimate, but what other options did I have? I blamed it on them.

“Do you have evidence in writing of this usage for financial management?”

I didn’t know a test of morality came with my purchase for $19.99.

I guess the deluxe edition has a confession segment and sends it electronically to your local Cardinal (and the IRS).

John Poole, an Eagle-Vail resident, writes a biweekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at poolejohn@gmail.com.

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