I finished my taxes last night at 11:49. I still don't consider this to be procrastination because my dad, a tax accountant, never, ever filed his taxes without getting the extension. Wisely, I resist the temptation to extend. I need hard and fast deadlines to get anything done.
Trained at birth to understand the art and science of income and deductions, I like to do my taxes myself. Mostly, I know what's going on, but every once in awhile, I need to look something up. I find tax code quite entertaining.
If you claim the foreign earned income exclusion or housing exclusion on Form 2555 or Form 2555-EZ, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 made changes to the tax law that may affect your 2006 tax liability. The IRS will waive the 2006 estimated tax penalty to the extent the underpayment of any installment is attributable to changes made by the new law.
When I teach diction and tone, I like to bring in samples of tax booklets, cereal boxes, appliance manuals, cosmetic ads, etc. We always conclude that tax law and instruction does not tend to be user friendly. It makes sense. Tax laws are very complicated, and often there isn't an easy way to make it simple and clear. Like I always tell my students with tortured sentences, if the thinking is all jumbled up, the writing will be too.
Last night I tried H&R Block's new on-line tax prep program, Tango. I had to prepare two returns, so I used Tango for one and TaxACT for the other. I have to say that if you own a business or have lots of complicated investments, I would go with TaxACT. The deluxe version is cheap, and when you get stuck or have a question, you can access a huge resource of tax law to research your issue. Tango, on the other hand, only provides brief help information, and offers telephone assistance at an extra charge.
That said, I kinda got a warm fuzzy about Tango. If you have simple taxes, I would totally recommend using it. The platform is nicely designed, not super cool but nice. The screen is simple, and the organization and navigation is very easy. But the best part is the attitude. When I finished entering the first section, Tango checked for errors, and when it told me there weren't any errors, it told me I was a rock star!
At the beginning and the end of each section, Tango greeted me with compliments and sympathetic statements. The copy made me feel cared for, admired and supported. And I was doing my taxes! I used to do ad copy, so I am very aware of how they were making me get the warm fuzzy, but I kind of don't care how real it all is--if they can make preparing taxes more pleasurable, I am for it. And dude, they even have a blog.
I did the Tango return first. As much as it gave me the aforementioned warm fuzzy, I went with TaxAct for the second return because of its complexity. I've used TaxACT for three years, and I am completely happy with their service. But, I'll admit, I kinda was sad not to hang out with the cuter and nicer Tango a little longer.
It certainly gave this teacher a little lesson in the power of language to add life to even the most dry, complicated subjects.
Ohmigod, I can't believe I just wrote about doing taxes. I clearly need to go outside and play.