I Did Our Tax Return … On Paper


Thirty years ago, way, way back in my days as an Early Adopter, I paid $19 for a CD’s worth of TurboTax Premium, 1990.  Its ease of use just blew me away.   It knew the law, was a whiz at math, and spit out a beautiful printed return (e-filing was not yet a thang) and was so easy to use that halfway into it I poured myself a big Scotch on the rocks.  Our returns were much more complicated then; owning a home and a house we couldn’t sell and had to rent, W-2’s and itemized deductions quickly became a headache.  And I almost never get headaches.

On paper this year it took about 15 minutes, not counting the trip to a library to get tax forms, but maybe the possession of a skill with spreadsheets is cheating.  In theory I could have prepared the 1040 online, but H&R Block somehow turned my FREE prep into a $30 job.  (This I learned only after two hours of keying in 17 lines of minutiae off the each of our 1099’s showing a few dollars of interest and whatnot.  Avoid H&R the same as you would coronavirus.)

It seems odd, but when you file on paper you don’t have to enter the names, addresses, tax ID numbers, and contents of each of the boxes on a Form 1099.  You just enter a total for interest, pensions, IRA distributions, Social Security, and whatever else.  We have a bit of “production” (that’s oil royalties for all of you from states with only coal or gravel underground) which are supposed to go on Schedule E, Rents and Royalties.  But that’s not in the forms package, and anyway we don’t have five figures of it, so all the IRS really cares about is that I let them tax it somewhere, anywhere.  Thus it went on the paper return as Other Income with the explanation being the name of the payor.

I made a copy, addressed an envelope and stuffed it, and soon enough we’ll entrust it to the USPS.  It’s probably my easiest tax return ever, with the exception of the first one after college when I had no dinero and only four months’ income.

Life is good.  Even now I still believe that government does a lot of things better than business.  And that would include preparing people to be president.  And solely for your viewing pleasure dear readers, here is a YouTube clip of Our Founding Fathers singing their hilariously and sadly modified version of Don McLean’s American Pie.  His song may have been about the 1959 plane crash demise of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper and the subsequent British Invasion (THE BEATLES, and the ‘Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band in the World, The Rolling Stones!’)

And for you Bea, and Vera:  you should not listen.  It’s best that old people do not become angry; this just might trigger a stroke.


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