Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Taxes, Taxes, TAXES, GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Did the title of the post give you an idea of the frustration I am feeling? I hate doing our taxes. I hate, hate, hate it.

For a few years, we bounced back and forth between my mom doing them, and my FIL, who is an accountant. He lives far away, though, so it always took longer, because we'd have to send it to him, and he'd have to mail it back, etc, etc.

Then, one year we needed the money fast, so we fell into the H & R Block trap. You know the one- do your taxes now, get your money by the weekend trap. Only, the trap part? Yeah, it costs you a LOT of extra money to do that.

Over the years, we've used H&R Block 4 times. The first was the time mentioned above. The next was when a friend started working there, and she was able to do the taxes for free (yay! My favorite number!). Then the other two times were frustrating years.

In 2007, Nick and I relocated for a job. Because of the job change, Nick was forced to cash out an educators only pension he had. He worked for a college before going to his new job. Not as an actual educator, but the school enrolled him in that pension. When tax time came, we found that the tax programs just could not handle the info. We got hugely varied results. I mean, one program told us we would get $1500 from state, and another would say we were only getting $50 from state. Just insanely, uncomfortably, hugely different numbers.

Had it been a matter of $5-10 here or there in discrepancy, we would have forged on, feeling the numbers were right. Instead, after several days, and trying out almost 10 different tax programs, we gave in, and paid H & R Block the big bucks.

Then, last year for the 2008 returns, we had similar issues, because we had just bought our first home, and there was that whole new home tax credit thing.

This year, I was confident- no oddities, no weird things to tack on to our returns. I went through with the free H&R Block return. Federal went fine. State... not so much.

It was suddenly telling us that for the first time ever, we owed money. Now, to give you some back story on why we felt that JUST COULD NOT BE... Nick puts down 0 for dependents, so he gets a lot taken out in taxes (yes, we do it on purpose for a big return, no, no amount of telling us how we're giving the government a free loan will change how we do it, as we'd rather err on the side of caution, than get a surprise bill). In 2008, he made... ok, I won't share that. I will say this- in 2008, Nick still got 4 quarterly bonus checks, and 1 yearly bonus. Those 5 bonus checks always upped the income by 2-3K overall.

They were taxed at a rate of 40%, so a lot was taken in taxes on them. In 2009, the PTB decided to STOP allowing for the quarterly bonuses all together. In addition, no pay raises were given. So, while he earned the same amount, because there were no quarterly bonuses, Nick earned less in 2009 than 2008. We still had a good chunk of money with held, though.

So in the end- income lower, taxes lower, but still right for the salary. Yet, we owe?

H&R Block said yes, we owe- almost $200. Not much, sure, but still, a shock. Nick's dad is running the numbers, as I refuse to file a "we pay you" tax return without getting the numbers checked. I did try another program last week when I ran the numbers, but that program was just frustrating me to no end, after I was already frustrated. Kids were running around, Nick was being loud playing with them... not conducive to my mind tackling tax issues.

Anyway. Today, I decided to try one last time to run the numbers with TaxAct.com.

Remember how that one year, we got wildly different numbers? Well, I am NOT comforted by what I got today. TaxAct made me run Federal to get to State, because it imports the Federal numbers to get the State numbers.

Federal came out almost dead even ($7 ahead, but I won't whine yet). State? Oh... state. According to H & R Block, we owe $182 to state. According to TaxAct, state owes US $1459. HUGELY, WILDLY, INSANELY different numbers.

I'm waiting to see what Nick's dad comes back with. He's a real, live person, and a real, live accountant. His numbers are what will matter to me. I would be nice, though, if his numbers matched TaxAct. ;)

4 comments:

Jessie L. said...

I use TurboTax online. It is a great program, and really easy to use. It isn't free, but for the ease and quickness of getting our refunds I don't mind paying a small amount. And it's much less than H&R Block or any account would charge. I haven't ever had a problem with getting insanely different numbers. It's even easy to use if you own a home and have the interest and property taxes to deduct, etc. Good luck with your quest. We already have gotten both our state and federal refunds.

JHill said...

I freaking hate doing taxes. Math gives me anxiety attacks anyway, but knowing how royally screwed we could be if the taxes are done wrong makes them even scarier.

We almost always get ours done, but 3 years ago the lady did them wrong, giving us too much in taxc return money. It didn't get caught for a year and a half, so our NEXT years taxes were wrong too. BUT we hadn't shelled out the extra money for the insurance in case the taxes came out wrong, so we had to pay for our tax preparers mistake.

Ugh.

Heather@ My Frugal Family said...

Taxes just make my head spin :(

Nick's dad emailed me- he came out pretty close to what TaxACT did, just running the preliminary numbers (he didn't fill out forms, he just did the math). I called and left a message asking if we should just go ahead and file with Tax ACT.

Either way, I am REALLY glad I did NOT file state with H&R Block. Ugh. Paying in, when we were owed money? Sheesh.

Veronica said...

I have been going to H&R Block for over 10 years, never had a problem. Always got out of there paying under $200.00 which is good for CA. We always get a lot back, because hubby claims 1 so a lot of money is taken out of his check. He does that so we get a lot back at tax time.