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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mr. Taxman

I'm so confused.

I've been working on my taxes since getting back home from Quaint Smallish City a few hours ago, and in that time I've gone from delighted ("this Turbo Tax thing is so easy! and I'm totally getting tons of money back!") to deeply worried.

Here's the deal: I need to file taxes in three states this year: Grad School State, Residency State, and Big Urban State. As if that weren't bad enough, there are these complicating factors:
  • Each of the last two years I've mis-filed my taxes in Residency State, calculating that I owed X amount but in fact winding up getting 70% of that money BACK a month or two later when someone in the state capital figured it out. (I really thought that I was filing all the right forms, but I guess I wasn't sufficiently communicating the fact that most of my income was earned in a different state.)
  • For the first time, I've been saving receipts so that I could deduct business expenses--most specifically, for commuting and job-searching.
  • I've been having laaarge amounts of money withheld from my BUU paycheque for federal taxes, for reasons that I can't figure out.
  • I received a research fellowship over the summer on which no taxes were assessed.
So, given my proven incompetence in these matters, I knew that this year I needed to turn to a higher power--which is to say, Turbo Tax. Everything went beautifully through the federal section, even if I was bummed out to realize that the lack of withholdings on my fellowship cut my return in half, to less than $400.

But the state sections seem flat wrong to me: I OWE $153 in Grad School State (I've never owed money in this state--I usually get back about $100), and I'm only getting back $143 from Big Urban State.

But the biggest shocker is that. . . wait for it. . . I supposedly owe ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-ODD DOLLARS to Residency State.

People, my income for 2005 was about what you'd expect for someone who was a grad student for half the year and a decently-compensated lecturer for the other half. Who owes twelve hundred dollars in taxes, other than freelancers and the self-employed? Moreover, who owes that kind of money to a single state when she doesn't owe it to the others--and when she is in fact getting several hundred dollars BACK from the Feds?

I'm really not sure what to do. I'm convinced that this is wrong, but I've had so little success in the past in finding the right forms and instructions to prove this that it doesn't seem likely I'll be able to do it this time--and I don't exactly have a thousand dollars to send to the state capital until they figure it out for me.

Anyone have a CPA friend they want to loan out for a day?

link | posted by La Lecturess at 8:47 PM |


Blogger AAYOR commented at 10:02 PM~  

Do NOT even ask me.... I completely effed mine up and didnt realize it until AFTER I efiled them. Good luck, though!

Anonymous What Now? commented at 10:27 PM~  

I quite agree that this doesn't seem right.

I do in fact have a CPA friend I'd loan out for the day. Or rather, I have my mom. She's a licensed tax preparer who does D.'s and my taxes every year (which is a little infantilizing, sure, but she's really good at it, and that whole "the U.S. doesn't recognize our marriage" thing makes taxes complicated since we have all things in common) and who also does the taxes of friends of ours every year.

The weird thing is that she really *likes* it! (Go figure; in this regard, my apple fell very, very far from her tree!) So, honestly, if you'd like to get in touch with me about her address and such, she'd be perfectly happy for you to mail her your tax stuff and to take a look at it. Please feel free to take me/her up on this.

Blogger ceresina commented at 10:35 PM~  

Most (all?) states give you credit for paying state taxes to other states. The line to declare it should be on the main form, but it may be phrased in legalese (i.e., not obvious that's where you declare it). It may help to get an instruction book & read the details. (Unless TT offers that? I haven't done my taxes yet...)
Sorry to suddenly comment about something so personal; I get a little obsessive over taxes, and thought this might be a good time to delurk!

Blogger Prof. Me commented at 10:46 PM~  

Ah, LL, if only you were closer! Someone is this house could straighten this mess out for you in half an hour or less! (And it's not me!)

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 2:32 PM~  

Ceresina, welcome!

And to all: I'll post an update later, but I think I may be on my way to solving the problem. I emailed the customer-service address for the tax department in Residency State, and I got back a link to a form that appears to allow one to deduct taxes paid in another state. (Only problem is that there's only space to list one alternate state, so I had to email back another question.)

This form, by the way, is NOT in the state's extremely thick tax booklet. Nor is it listed on the webpage among the top-ten forms. Nor is the issue of out-of-state income even broached in either. It can't be an infrequent problem, so I've come to the conclusion that they're DELIBERATELY hiding this information.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 1:12 PM~  

Interesting. I bet they are hiding it. With your location being SO close to other states, I'm sure it's common.

I like conspiracy theories as much as the next guy, but I wouldn't have expected this from a tax agency like that. The people writing the forms are so far removed from the money collection process, what's in it for them to hide info like this? Unless someone who stands to benefit (politician? treasurer?) directly TELLS the people writing the forms to hide it, which seems weird too.

Oh well, I hope you do alright. The state I'm in taxes me on out-of-state income (and my income is out of state because I use mom and dad's address as my permanent address because... well, I can), so I feel the pain. Every other year I've had some kind of 1099 or 1040S-C income so I ALWAYS get hit hard at tax time. This is the first year I haven't had such misfortune, so I got money back from the feds (already have it) and a little bit back from this state.

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