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How confusing are your taxes?

  • Posted by Sharon McNary
  • on March 10, 2009 10:50 AM

The big tax prep companies are pushing confusion this year in some of their ads. What’s your tax-time confusion, if any?

Share your tax story with Marketplace, or add your comments below.

We ran the question by people in the Public Insight Network and found that tax confusion abounds.

Thumbnail image for stefano bloch crop.jpgTo musician Stefano Bloch of Minneapolis — seen here in Los Angeles, where he has played clarinet with the Philharmonic Orchestra — the only easy thing about the government’s simplest tax forms is its name: EZ

I have filed with an online “EZ” tax place. It has been the most complicated experience. I still don’t know if I ever received my state tax refund from Minnesota when I moved here for school. I fill out the forms on line but still have to print them out and mail them in. So what is the use of going online at all? I found out I had to hand sign the forms after not receiving my stimulus for almost a year. This year I am going with hard copies… unless I realize I need help.

Jane married another woman this year in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal. She doesn’t want to share this info wtih her co-workers, so she asked that her last name be withheld. She says her tax status is now confusing. She can file her state taxes jointly with her partner, but not her federal taxes.

When it says “married or single” on a Federal form we need to attach a letter explaining that we are legally married here in MA but that it is not federally recognized. Thank goodness for accountants! You might think that we could just check the single box on the Federal Form, but from a legal perspective, it is better to not have official papers where we declare ourselves single, because it could undermine us at a later date (ie, “we have all these papers where you checked ‘single’ - how can you say you are married?”) I don’t yet know how we are going to file in MA (need to hear back from our accountant) but I’m hoping that we don’t get any unpleasant surprises about what it means to be married with taxes.

Martin Schrick of Dayton, Ohio, says it was the IRS that was confused last year.

The IRS claimed I had not paid my ‘08 tax. I paid it on April 10. It took them five letters, 10 phone calls and 9 months to figure out I had paid in full. That is what happens with big government incompetence.

Caroline Moore, of Omaha, Neb., recently got married and is confused about why, even though she makes far more money now than she did a few years ago, her disposable income remains about the same. Some people call it the IRS marriage penalty.

I have gone from getting a nice (several thousand dollar) return every year to now for the first time ever having to write a check to the IRS…It blows my mind that despite my $20,000 salary increase in the last few years, I am seeing very little difference in my take home pay with our increased tax responsibilities as a married couple who together make more than $130,000.

Tax preparer Christine Stafford, of Kill Devil Hills, knows there’s a story behind every tax return she calculates.

I know that a tax return is especially challenging if I dream about it.

Discussion: 1 Comment

  • Posted by Pat Alexander on April 11, 2009 7:01 AM

    “Retirement Savers Credit” I just found THAT thing this year. How long has that been around? (2002) It wont increase your refund but will decrease the amount you pay in. Huh? Let me see here… 80% of filers get a refund(dopes) so if the remaining 20% qualify(unlikely) THEY get this credit? What 3 filers does this credit target? Well, me this year, but come on. Was this passed on April Fools Day and somehow put in the tax code? I changed my W4 toot sweet just to make sure I owe next year. I’m slow but not untrainable.

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