Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tax Time One More Time

Last month, I posted about how we tried to do our taxes and hit an unexpected snag: my husband's W-2, the key piece of information, had gone missing. When tax documents arrive in the mail through the winter, I give them to my husband and he sticks them in a folder in his desk. In March, we open all the envelopes and organize everything on the same night we fire up TurboTax on the laptop and start our taxes.

I assumed my husband had absent-mindedly misfiled the precious W-2. Between us, we searched every folder in his overstuffed file drawer three or four times. Then we looked all over the place. We concluded that either it never arrived or, more likely, he'd thrown it out. So we requested a replacement and moved on.

Two days ago, a small manilla envelope appeared in our mail slot. It held an apology from one of our neighbors, along with my husband's missing W-2 and a refund statement from Massachusetts. She had accidentally taken two pieces of our mail, stuck it in her folder, and had only discovered it after visiting her accountant.

Innocent mistake. I apologized to my husband for accusing him of carelessness. He said he was relieved that he isn't losing his mind; he was convinced he'd never seen that W-2, although that didn't make any sense. ("So why didn't you do anything about that?" I said, accusing him of carelessness all over again. Tax matters get us het up.)

And then it hit me: had we included our state refund in our taxable income? I had no memory of doing that and was worried we'd have to amend our return. We record everything that's piled in our folder, and if it wasn't there, we'd certainly forgotten it. Damn. I'd wanted our tax hassles to be over for the year.

We pulled out our printed copy of our TurboTax return and looked over it together. Well, well: TurboTax had remembered the amount of our 2010 state refund; after all, it had calculated it at tax time last year. And it had entered the correct amount in our 2011 income all by itself.

I've done plenty of complaining about TurboTax but I think I'll shut up now. For a while, anyway. Until next March, at least.

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