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April 15 has now come and gone, but even though I filed my taxes well in advance of the deadline, it caused me more pain and anguish than I thought possible.
Not being any kind of math genius or finance guru, I decided to take my taxes to a local professional this year. I chose a nationally known tax service, thinking it might cost a little bit but it’d be easy and hassle-free.
During the past year, I spent time working in both Kentucky and North Carolina, so I had two sets of W2s.
I had a small amount of interest from a one-year student loan, and a bill from the moving truck I used when moving here. That’s it. No mortgage, no stocks, no underage dependents, nothing too challenging for a seasoned professional.
Or so I thought.
During my tax session, the preparer told me I would owe the government $700. Tears almost came to my eyes as I demanded to know how in the world that was possible. I do not claim anyone as a dependent, not even myself.
And every week, Uncle Sam takes a little extra out of my check—to ensure this never happens.
Wrong button, the tax man told me as he laughed at his mistake. This girl was not laughing but rather trying to catch her breath and not yell a few choice words already brewing inside my head.
My anger subsided as he finished and electronically filed my taxes, but it came back once he told he exactly how much it cost for this supposedly hassle-free experience.
It was nearly twice what I had originally thought, and that was after my $25 off coupon. Just to be done with my taxes and get the heck out of that office was worth the money, so I paid it and went on my way.
But the frustration did not stop there. After checking out the IRS Web site and seeing my refund was sent for deposit, my bank statement showed no record of the transaction.
After calling my bank, I learned my friend the tax man had failed to enter the first number of my bank account, causing the bank to reject the deposit and send it back to the IRS.
The reason I chose direct deposit was to quickly have a refund, so now I’d have to wait even longer for a paper check to come through the mail.
I was livid at this point, and called the local tax office. While the manager apologized for the error, she said all she could offer me was another $25 coupon off next year’s service.
Yeah, right. Like I’ll be back there again. The reason I opted to have my taxes done by a “professional,” I told her, was so they would be done right.
“It was a human error,” she said.
Right. I could have made these “human errors” on my own.
A few days after I hung up, I received an envelope in the mail with the coupon and a $25 check for “any inconvenience we may have caused.”
While I have to admit it was a nice gesture, the coupon expires this year. Even if I wanted to go back, the coupon wouldn’t be valid come tax season ’09.
So next year, I think I’ll try it myself. I’m sure there’s some sort of idiot-proof computer service that will help me through. If you know of a good one, please let me know. I’m not going through that mess again.
I was able to breathe a sigh of relief Monday when my final refund was waiting for me in my mailbox. Now all I have to do is wait and see what happens when the IRS tries to direct deposit my tax rebateee
KATHRYN JACEWICZ is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.