Thursday, February 15, 2007

Slavic Paranoia & Tax-Filing

All is well here at Verging. Perhaps the lack of postings recently that may have given a reader the impression that no ideas, no thinking, no mental surges were happening at this end. Life at work is its usual hectic cauldron of hub-bub, innuendo, & paper-generating, so no change there. It is the first two months of the year and there is that accumulation activity that is happening for all of us who still try to do our own taxes each year. Being Slavicly paranoid, I prefer the self-mutilation of self-prepared returns. You know, minimal dispersal of one’s financial doings to anyone outside the four walls of your house. So, I go the TurboTax route while sifting through the shoe boxes of W-2’s, 1099’s, faded medical receipts, and those indiscernible statements from brokers and hospitals (these two groups must use the same invoicing software, Gordian Knot Inc.).
But, being Slavicly paranoid, each year I sweat as I load the current year’s version of TurboTax. The mysterious TurboT asks me to update the software via the Internet as the purchased cd may not have the most current IRS rulings regarding the deductibility of my nerve damage suffered while prepping the annual 1040 (Nope, checked it out; still not deductible unless I can provide a cost basis for the damage…which can only be provided by the aforementioned doctor/hospital with their demonic invoicing system). The thing about the tax software updating via the Internet is this. How do/would I know what bits (literally) of my financial info is being sent out there in the Internet while I’m taking in bits of recent IRS codeage? Even if I was a programming voyeur, would I be able to tell? Yeah, yeah. They promise confidentiality. What does that mean? If your finances are breached, how will you be able to easily track the breach abck to the software? Do you have the time or money to pursue this possibility?
You laugh. But hasn’t the news in the last year or so of credit card and banking databases being violated given you pause? The most recent efforts by large banks, including my own, to be more client friendly by offering to do your taxes online for free have me running to the hills. Hold on there! You already have a clue as to my financial dealings by having access to my bank accounts. Now, you’re offering to look through my other finances and do my taxes? For free? America’s a lot of things but “free” is not one of them. There’s a gimmick and I think you’ll catch onto that gimmick when you start receiving financially relate doffers that are uncomfortably too personal. How does the bank know I have this illness? How do they know which pharmacy I shop at?

Working myself to a feverish pitch here. Perhaps, I’ll chuck the pc this year and go retro. Paper forms. Calculator tape. And shoe boxes. Lots of shoe boxes.

I can see your sweat stained calculator tapes from all the way over here. Bwahahaha. ;-)
Yes, but what will you be listening to as you forage among your shoe boxes? For years and years my income tax soundtrack was supplied by They Might Be Giants. These days I need something downright "new agey" to keep me calm as I face an income tax form that seems to get ever more complex - "Gordian", as you say.
Let's be honest. No matter how good you are, somewhere deep in the core of your accounting heart there must be at least a bit of a demonic laugh waiting ot spill out onto those of us foolishly persuing a self-prepared return, even if it's software-driven. I'm waiting for Intuit to supply a cheapish hari-kari knife with one of the cal year's versions of TurboTax.

THey Might Be Giants is an inspired choice! I tend to start out with something dark, menacing & foreboding, like Wagner's "Flight of the Valkyrie". I see myself as Robert Duvall, from the scene in "Apocalypse Now", where his Airborne Cavalry is attacking the Surf Beach, as I am attacking the paper receipts beach. Then, since I don't have any recordings of it, I hear in my mind's ear that "Oh Wee Oh!" tune from "Wizard of Oz" when the witch's soldiers are marching into the castle.

Somewhere (not over the rainbow) along the line, the jazz kicks in as the application of creative accounting becomes necessary in the determination of those all-important individual deductions kicks in. As Nigel Tufnel uttered the classic phrase, "There's such a thin line between clever and stupid.", so I mutter "There's a thin line between claimable and auditable.". Never been audited....never want to be, so multiple permutations of the TurboTax computations are done. Like those speeding postings in Pennsylvania where they post the excessive speed right next to the applicable fines, I think paying your taxes comes down to, "Yeah, O.K., I'm fine with that." Too bad, paying one's taxes couldn't be more like a referendum on the government. Dubya has had a particularly bad year last year. Something I had a hard time dealing with sicne he's had som many bad years before. I feel my tax payments should be directly connected with his performance. He does poorly; I pay less.
But back to the music. My favorite tax-related jazz cd(s) would be Cedar Walton's Eastern Rebellion I and II.

Now, back to the Valkyrie.

If things tax-wise get truly bad, I may have to plop one of these two cd's on. I'm praying this year that I won't be hearing them (although I highly recommend both albums, tranncelike with slashed nerve endings)
"I'm waiting for Intuit to supply a cheapish hari-kari knife"

Heh. *insert demonic laugh here* ;-)

Love your tax-related music selections though...frankly, I've never thought about putting taxes to music before and now you've opened up a whole new world. Personally, I like to indulge in Dave Brubeck's Time Out collection while working on other people's taxes but this doesn't carry the same appeal as Eastern Rebellion or, God forbid, Koyaanisquatsi (in the right moment, this is one of my favorite soundtracks the movie is also great).
With a brother as a cracker jack CPA, one would think I had the tax-man by the ....

Anyway, I don't use Brudder Bear. We just spend 100 bucks at H&R Brock.

I used to do my own taxes, but with college tuitions, etc., I would rather take a less painful route.

The best music for this time of year is from the Beatles archives, doncha know...

Let me tell you how it will be;
There's one for you, nineteen for me.
'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don't take it all.
'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

(if you drive a car, car;) - I’ll tax the street;
(if you try to sit, sit;) - I’ll tax your seat;
(if you get too cold, cold;) - I’ll tax the heat;
(if you take a walk, walk;) - I'll tax your feet.


'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

Don't ask me what I want it for, (ah-ah, mister Wilson)
If you don't want to pay some more. (ah-ah, mister heath)
'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

Now my advice for those who die, (taxman)
Declare the pennies on your eyes. (taxman)
'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

And you're working for no one but me.

If I even made enough money in the last six years to pay taxes I'd be doing the retro thing, the most I do by way of help is go to a reliable tax preparer, there's a good tax service in the Yakima Gulag that I used when I had a home based business working under contract. (A thing I don't recommend unless you are actually making good money, which I actually was...)
Paper is good, it's private, and costs more to hack.
Slavs are paranoid for extremely good historical reasons, every Slav land has had tyrants, either domestic or foreign and the chief means of tyranny has been the system of taxation in damn near every case! :)
I think they need to investigate the entire financial services industry, from bank fees to credit card interest and fees to payday loans, to insurance, the lot are as crooked these days as a barrel of guts.
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