We spent the afternoon doing our federal and Massachusetts tax returns online. We are battered and bruised but expect to recover... in time to file the Pennsylvania return, the one I fill out by hand, which might just do me in. This year, Pennsylvania never sent me any forms, which I interpret to mean that I can make one up as I go along, one a lined notepad with a crayon.
Or maybe they no longer expect me to file a return. Yes, I'm sure that's the case.
TurboTax always makes us feel like complete idiots, and this year we felt stupider than ever, going around in endless loops because we couldn't understand the questions and were equally stumped by the answers. We also managed to misplace three essential tax records we don't remember receiving in the mail.
Every year, our reward for making it through hell had been a nice, fat refund from the IRS and a payment for about $50 to the state. Not this year: we had to make unpleasantly fat payments to both. We refinanced our mortgage last year, so we're not deducting nearly as much interest, so that's part of the reason. I also sold some investments so we'd have an imaginary down payment on an imaginary condo or house, so we had capital gains to pay. And we may have jumped into a higher tax bracket.
I can't complain about any of that. We're doing fine and we are happy to pay what we owe. Taxes are indeed, "the price we pay for civilized society," as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote. By the way, he and his family once lived next door to 298 Beacon Street, which burned so fiercely last week. (Their beautiful brick townhouse was replaced by the current monstrosity in 1951.)
I'd feel even happier paying my taxes if my civilized society would fix some of the sinkhole-sized potholes around here.
And that's all I have to say about that. We are wiped out.