April 17, 2013

Filing, elephant projects, water bombs, and other interruptions

I did it!  Once again I pulled it off.  The process involved some late nights, the usual amount of confusion, at least one occasion for desperate digging in my desk for paperwork, and of course procrastination.  But in the end, I did it . . . I filed my taxes on time.

I didn't procrastinate much this time around, but my busy schedule did not permit me to sit down and get the job done early on.  Having said that, I know that prioritizing the taxes ahead of other events that cropped up, might have prevented me from filing at the last minute.  Once I initiate the process every year, I can come back to it when I have a minute.  I tend to sidle up to the early stages of tax time, however, like Tetonka approaches his homework.  He checks to see if there is anything else possible that he might need to do before he dives in. 

I felt unprepared this year, and as usual . . . I was right.  The typical stack of tax paperwork wasn't growing in a corner of my desk.  I blame this nonexistent beckoning pile of envelopes for my lack of motivation to jump start the Turbo Tax software.  Apparently, most of my necessary paperwork was swallowed by a black hole that exists in our house.  I was missing a W2, and couldn't figure out how to sign in to the website to print it out.  Could the bank really have failed to send me any of my official documents this year?  Doubt it.  Having turned in all of my tax 'stuff' from the last few years to the mortgage rep, I struggled to find our property pin number.  Come to think of it, I am beginning to wonder if this mortgage rep has found a new line of work and not notified us.  It was a crisp day in October when I gave him a shopping bag full of poorly organized, somewhat wrinkled documentation.  The daughter of an accountant, I know that my dad would be sickened if he saw the condition of the paperwork that I handed Mr. Mortgage-Refinance-Man.  It goes without saying that Dad would be equally upset to see the disorganization of my desk, and he would have trouble grasping how envelopes disappeared into thin air.

Once a big chunk of my misplaced information was regurgitated from various websites, I worked to input the info when prompted to by my dear friend, Turbo Tax.  A few other events occurred that caused me to pause my tax progress, but knowing that I was close to being done - I relaxed.  Mistake number 472 of the year 2013. 

While the details of my taxes might be boring, I can report on the never ending, eventful interruptions that occurred while I attempted to input tax data.  Coach was working late, and I finished up after school activities, dinner, and baths a little later than I would prefer - but what else is new?  Laddie was in a particularly irritating frame of mind.  His satisfaction at antagonizing his siblings was causing me to be more than a little perturbed.  

Reggie had a book that he had to write about elephants for a first grade project.  Although we were given months to research and create the book, ours was started just a week before the due date, not unlike my taxes.  While Reggie drew a few pictures of elephants for the required picture pages, he wanted to print the remaining images off of the Internet.  The computer was acting up, so Laddie turned it off.  It struggled to reboot.  I raced to the laptop, eager to find a handful of photos for Reg to select from and get him to bed.  My plan was to email them to coach at work and ask him to print them off, since the laptop doesn't connect to the printer.  The laptop decided to update just as we were finishing up.  This meant it had to shut down momentarily.  Did I want to save the file I had created, YES!  I know I responded correctly, but when I was able to reboot the laptop I couldn't find the photos anywhere.  This was a very nerve racking twenty minute stretch because Eddie stood in front of me and chanted, "Aren't you going to drive me to basketball now?  Come on!  I don't want to be late."  Over, and over, and over.  I urged him to read with Curly while I finished the elephant picture search, so I could quickly put her to bed.  In the distance there was a shrieking sound that I could only ignore for so long.  Finally I asked what the hell was going on even though part of me didn't really want to know.  "Who is screaming?!"  It was Mini.  It turns out that Laddie, who suffers from boredom at the most inopportune times, was throwing plastic Easter eggs filled with cold water at Mini while she was in the shower.  Alas, no taxes were accomplished on this eventful, yet typical, evening.  I may have even ended the evening pondering why I have so many dependents in the first place (tax deduction or not)!

Mini was born on April 12th.  I will urge her to never choose tax accounting as a profession, if she values enjoyable birthdays.  My childhood friend, Meggy, is a tax accountant.  I begrudgingly elected to use my 'phone-a-friend' pass a few times in the final days.  Fortunately, the software that I purchased included one free state.  I was relieved to complete my state income taxes immediately after my federal, and planned to call it a day before ten o'clock.  (A few years back, I got a shocking letter letting me know that I had neglected to file state income taxes.  Oops!)  There were a few hiccups to my plan, and I ransacked my desk looking for what I needed.  Another phone call to Meggie. 

Then, at last, I was done.  I just needed to input my bank account numbers for refunds and withdrawals, etc.  Then my good friend turned on me.  No not Meggie, Turbo Tax.  It asked me how I would like to pay for my Turbo Tax fees.   Granted I was tired, but I insisted on knowing what the heck fees I could owe.  It was charging me for the use of the 'not-so-free' state.  What?!  Eager for my misery to end, and my sleep to commence, I resigned to pay the fee.  I did decide to contact Turbo Tax during the day at some point to argue my case, but now my focus was on filing.  Over and over again, I received a message stating that Turbo Tax was having some difficulties and I would have to try again later.  There WAS no later!  I tried repeatedly.  Some times I would get as far as typing in my credit card data, and then the alert box would pop up in front of my tired, frustrated eyes.  Eventually, I was successful and Turbo Tax displayed the words I so wanted to see:  "You have successfully filed." 

I feel like I fought a battle with Turbo Tax, and T.T. won.  Of course at that point, T.T. could have demanded $500 instead of a simple $19.99, and I would have paid.  Anything to be done with this nonsense . . .  at least until next year!

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