When Author and Blogger Donna McNicol invited me to participate in this writing challenge I had already thought about the daunting task of doing taxes while researching topics and doing the daily writings to post each day in April. She already had solved this problem on her own. She and Hubby Stu had already completed their taxes and had already started completing her letter of the day assignments, setting them up for scheduled postings on the appropriate days, and then they were headed off on a cruise. Not my style!
As a trained journalist and educator I have learned over the years I CAN MEET ANY DEADLINE, but, sometimes, with very little excess time. The taxes will get done and so will my blogs!
QUICKEN AND A BIG ENVELOPEWhat style "tax accountant" are you? Some folks throw everything into a shoe box which then gets carried over to their favorite relative who was trained by AARP to do the work that will eventually go to the IRS or local/state taxing authorities.
In our household Hubby Luke is the keeper of our computer financial data in "Quicken 17". He can tell you every dollar we have spent by credit card or check since 1994. Investments, retirements, and online purchases are also all duly entered into the database. When it comes to my duties to prepare our taxes I grab our huge envelope of paper receipts for the year and start by sorting the receipts into category stacks on the dining room table. Once totaled, the amounts will be checked against Quicken reports and the proper amounts will be entered into Intuit TurboTax. In a perfect world, cranking out reports based on the needed categories should be a slam dunk. NOT THIS YEAR!
RINEHIMERS vs. TECHNOLOGY
For much of my community college teaching career I taught Mac and PC computer application classes aimed at computer-phobic adults. I also had to keep multiple college computer labs running so I am not afraid of technology. I know how to troubleshoot issues, look for solutions, and I generally have the patience to solve most technological problems. If not, I call my techie buddy, Barbara Westerfield. Luke, on the other hand, has no patience when it comes to anything technological. He would much prefer grabbing a sledgehammer versus looking at a YouTube video to solve computer hardware problems. I even have to plug-in his flip phone to keep it charged so I can find him in Walmart!
These contrasting working styles came into conflict big time last week when we discovered the Vista operating system on Luke's 2009 HP laptop was no longer going to be supported. We could no longer update application programs, there would be no searching for lost IRS 1099-R forms, and certainly no using this year's versions of Quicken or TurboTax. And to further complicate life in Luke's office space, his trusted paper shredder died and his older printer was producing illegible reports that no amount of maintenance head cleaning could solve. I even tried putting in a complete fresh set of ink cartridges and still the pages looked like mush. IT WAS TIME TO GO SHOPPING.
I started my initial laptop comparison research at cNet.com and then stopped at a local Costco and Staples store to check-out the marketplace in our price range of <$500. I then took Luke to Best Buy for a hands-on keyboard test drive. "Mr. No Opinion" left it up to me so we got him a 15.5-inch Dell Inspiron 15 3000 with an Intel Core i3 processor. We also found him a new compact paper shredder that he can take on the road. For the record, the Best Buy Geeks Squad does not do printer repairs: "It's not cost effective. Go buy a new printer." We have decided to use my existing Canon all-in-one wireless printer over our wireless home network. That will give him some exercise steps to retrieve his printing by walking from his office space to my office in the next room. I don't think he'll wear a FitBit to count his steps.
Even before opening the boxes, I spent a couple of days backing up all his document files, contacts, favorites, and photos using an external hard drive and multiple USB thumb drives as storage devices. Then we were both on the floor unraveling the jungle of power cords. It was finally time I started installing current versions of Quicken and TurboTax. NOW BACK TO INCOME TAXES!
SCHEDULE A and QUICKEN REPORTS
I would love report that Luke was in love with the categorical reports possible in Quicken that would make doing our taxes a speedy task. NO SO! He absolutely hates the new version and I even had trouble compiling the sorted reports we needed. I now need to review the instructional manual so I can proceed with the variety of MEDICAL EXPENSES we can claim on the IRS Schedule A.
USING TURBO TAXWe have used Turbo Tax software forever. Each year we purchase the updated edition for our needs and then the program installs in a location to grab the previous data files so it can import the necessary amounts to the match our circumstances.
In just a couple of hours on Monday I was able to use our organized 3-ring binder of 2016 documents to complete most of our Federal and State taxes. NEXT: SCHEDULE A - MEDICAL.
WRAPPING IT UP
Today I proved I could work on my INCOME TAXES -- at least the Bloggers Challenge Letter "I is for Income Taxes" is finished. I'll do more backing up of this blog and get ready to schedule the PUBLISH TIME at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11.
At our ages, figuring out all of our medical expenses will take a while to compile. Hopefully, the inclusion of Schedule A in Turbo Tax will throw the TAXES DUE result over to the TAX REFUND column. We could use a refund to pay for all of Luke's new technology.
Feel free to comment below and please check some of the postings of the other #AtoZChallenge participants