This weekend I spent a bit of time doing my Taxes. Unlike what appears to be 90% of the population I don’t use those newfangled computer programs to do my taxes, I do them by hand. In general this isn’t so bad. Other than doing a bit of research to figure out what I could deduct from my move (pretty much nothing), I completed my 1040, and my Minnesota M1NR. Do to my Minnesota residency but employment in WI, I get a penalty this year for not paying estimated tax to MN. I probably should have thought about this ahead of time since I had the same thing happen last year. At least I don’t have to deal with that again.
Now I need to do a CA return which seems to be stupid complicated compared to the other ones. For some reason I have to file a Schedule CA 540NR which is not nearly as straight forward as it should be. I’m not sure why they really care about my 1040 wages since they only get a part of that, and you work out what you actually owe on a sheet you don’t even turn in.
Actually, the worst part of my tax experience seemed to be that I didn’t have any paper forms (well I had a 1040a but needed to file a 1040). The federal government and the states all offer PDFs you can fill in but there is NO WAY to save your work. The best I could do is print the form to another PDF which I couldn’t edit. This made the few Apple Preview crashes a pain since I lost all the stuff on the form a couple times. That and I had to retype the whole form if I want to make a change. After the first crash I moved to scratch paper.
They seriously need some sort of form where you can save temporary work. Maybe they can just let me fill in a form online and submit electronically without paying. But if they let me do that, then Intuit would go out of business. I’m not going to pay some third party $20 so I can submit my taxes online.
Also for fun I gave the free online Turbo Tax a try to see what it came up with. In about the same amount of time (almost more in fact) as doing it by hand Turbo Tax agreed with my hand calculations. The best part was that they wouldn’t actually give you tax advice on the free version. At least the IRS forms list what you can do for certain deductions. With TurboTax you get a blank box unless you fork over your cash. Frankly, I have no idea why anyone pays for that software.