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I Was An Accountant For A Day…Or Two

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I did my son a favor and filled out his income tax forms. It was the first time I’ve done anyone’s taxes, including my own. His tax situation is as simple as can be and my accountant told me it was very easy. Of course he said it was easy; he’s been doing it for 25 years. For me, not so much.

The first clue that this was not going to be a walk in the park was the fact that the Federal  Form has “easy” in its name, as in “1040 EZ.” False advertising. Nothing in this world is easy (see “Ikea instructions”) and nothing is ez, either. Luckily, the forms do have instructions you can follow. If you can follow them. 

First,  you have to check  to make sure you are filling out the proper form. There are an awful lot of criteria, and that, coupled with the other forms you MAY have to fill out instead of  the 1040EZ OR in addition to it, led me to take a time out. It wasn’t long before I came back to it, drew a few venn diagrams, got my protractor warmed up and finally came to the conclusion that all I had to fill out was the “1040EZ” and nothing else. That was good news. 

Okay, time to fill it out. It’s really not that bad, except for those “If you answered “yes” to blah, blah, blah skip to question 16″ questions. If it’s a “no”, go back 4 spaces. (or something like that) I had to do some real thinking on these: “Was my son in the Navy for any part of 2010? Is he divorced? Did he travel to Peru anytime during the last 3 months?” Ugh.

The funny thing is when I was done, I looked at the form and realized I only had to fill in about 5 answers. 5 answers in 5 hours…not bad. If I did it right. 

Just when I thought I was done…I wasn’t. Now I had to follow their precise instructions on how to mail it back. (I know, I should have used e-file) They make a big deal out of  where precisely to staple the check and the amount of staples.(“One”, for those of you scoring at home)  They even have detailed drawings of the stapling method, which prompted me to realize there is someone whose occupation is “IRS Artist” (What do you do for a living? I am an artist for the IRS)

Then the IRS tells you how they want you to fill out the check. How can I possibly write all of the information they want on one check?

Name, address, phone #, social security number, form #, name of your third grade teacher. It’s a check, which the last I looked, doesn’t have much room to write on. I got it all on there. Whether or not they can read such small writing  is another story.

Stay tuned…I have a feeling it’s not over yet. Keep checking back here for my  posting on the letter I’m sure to get from the IRS, explaining  how I screwed it all up. It’s inevitable.

P.S. The deadline to file is midnight tonight.

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