You only have six days left to do your tax return. So get going. Deadline is April 17. I just did ours.
On April 1, my husband told me he could no longer do our tax return this year. Since the deadline is fast approaching, I then volunteered to do it. My husband, being from the old school, had this puzzled look on his face. Somehow I had this funny feeling he did not think I could do a tax return, not having done it for almost 50 years.
Well, well, well… There goes the challenge and I love being challenged.
I told him if a friend of us who has no accounting background can work for H & R Block to do taxes, I believe I can do my own income tax return.
I did my own tax return before I got married. My husband’s accountant took over after we got married and when we moved from Manhattan to Long Island, my husband handled the tax returns although I handled the household finance. I handled our bank account and paid all the household bills. Do I know how to do a tax return?
I had less than three weeks to do my son’s return and ours. What makes you think I can do two returns in less than three weeks when I have not done it for 48 years? Lack of practice. I could have forgotten how to do it. Besides I’m busy with other things all day long?
Well. . .
For starter, I have a degree in accounting. I passed the C.P.A. board examination on my first try at the age of 21. That was moons ago. I worked in the accounting field for 32 years and I was a company controller when I retired. That was 18 years ago. I retired early so don’t even start counting my age. I’m 102. OK? Really? Funny!!! I’m one of those accountants with a sense of humor. Not many of us do. Believe me, I found most of them boring especially at parties. All they talk about is office talk and numbers. How about some other topics like art? Maybe even dogs or gardening? How about history like WWII?
While I was working as an Assistant Controller and then as a Controller, I prepared Form 1120, the Corporate Income Tax Return and as a treasurer for non-profit organizations, I did Form 990, the Tax Return for Non-Profit Organizations. Also, while I was an Assistant Controller for an insurance company, I also prepared the quarterly and annual financial statements filing for the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners) for various states that we were doing business with and they were more complex and had more schedules because of our stock holdings and other investments. Now, I’m really talking about boring stuffs!
Do I know how to do a tax return? It’s like asking me if I forgot how to breathe. Form 1040 is nothing compared to Form 1120.
And so I gathered all the documents I needed for my income and expenses and went to work. I did my son’s return first. That was a snap. Then I did ours which involved more schedules to be attached to the 1040.
During all those years that my husband was doing our tax returns, I never read our tax returns. I mean he told me to sign the dotted line and so I just signed the return. I wanted to read it but he insisted I didn’t have to. Fine with me! I don’t argue with him. Not all the time anyway. That’s why I’m still married. We don’t argue. We just have different opinion. Anyway, he prepared our taxes with the help of Turbo Tax. I’m sure a lot of people use Turbo Tax to do their taxes. I refuse to spend money on things I can do myself.
I started filling up the form with the data I had on hand. Then I reviewed all my entries. When I got stuck with a question, I read the instruction. If you have to do various schedules, I can understand it can get complicated so unless you have an accounting background, guaranteed you’ll get too discouraged to do it. But trust me, you can do it. It just takes patience and understanding on what the instructions say. It needs concentration. I did our taxes in the afternoon when my husband was taking a nap. The house was quiet and my brain could concentrate.
By the way, at some point in our marriage, my husband worked for H & R Block part time. That gave him the confidence he knew about taxes. He also has a business degree major in Finance. I have a business degree major in Accounting. He worked on Wall St. for 25 years and then switched to accounting later on because it was too stressful working on the Big Board especially on a down market. I worked in the accounting field for 32 years until I retired. So who was more qualified to do a tax return? You be the judge.
The key to making your job easy is to keep your tax papers organized. All receipts and expenses that are related to your tax return should be kept in one place. As a former accountant, I have the habit of keeping all my receipts, both income and expenses. I also charged everything on one credit card which itemized my charges for the whole year. All your doctor’s visits should be on your calendar so you can figure out the mileage which is part of your medical expenses. 17 cents per mile can add up since during your golden years, you spent lots of time in the doctor’s office. Stock transactions might have to be itemized so you have to have that handy in a spreadsheet in case your stockbroker does not supply you with the Capital Gains/Losses schedule.
Well, I finished my tax return a week before the deadline. I saved money by not using Turbo Tax or a tax preparer. Both state and Federal returns were mailed this afternoon. Most importantly, I feel good that I’m back at my own game. However, I will only do tax returns for my family. I’m retired you know.
Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.