They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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The State of the Author 2009

Last Year, This Year And Next Year

I reported last year that in 2008 my "writing business" made a profit. Well, we finished our 2009 taxes and I have happy to report to the U.S. Federal government that my writing business has made another profit. Not as much as last year, just $66, but it wasn't zero -- and anyways TurboTax says that a lot of businesses didn't make as much money in 2009 as 2008. (Why wasn't anyone told about this news?) (grin)

The Ins And Outs Of Tax Software

We've been using TurboTax since we bought the house a long time ago. Every year they change things. Mostly, when we get down to it, it does a good job of bringing up what we did the year before and putting things in order for this year. I mean, after all, the reason we built computers was to handle repetitive and routine tasks for us. Doing all the accounting and percentages and rules checking -- yeah, it's good for things like that.

We did, however, have two problems with TurboTax Deluxe this year. One minor, one recalled technical support. The little one is an annual hassle. The Federal forms end up with a period after our middle initials. That's unacceptable to the Michigan form -- every year. Up to now you've just edited it and the software went on its way. But the field wouldn't edit. I finally figured out I had to use an "Override" on them and then edit it. Falls under the heading of annoying little things which make sense in the long run.

The other struck us last weekend, right after we entered our charitable deductions and clicked on Done With Charitable Deductions. The total didn't update on the information screen and kept saying "need 2009 info". Eventually I had to call Support. Turns out that this was a known bug and they had two workarounds. One of the reasons I couldn't find them was that my problem involved the Update button on the screen -- and anytime you try to search "update" in a search term you keep getting stuff about updating or upgrading TurboTax. They need to reconcile their help screens with the actual terms they use in their software. (grin) Anyway, the problem lay in the fact that in all previous versions TurboTax doesn't care if you leave old entries in lists of things. For this one item -- charitable deductions -- they forgot to code that feature in. So the two workarounds involved (a) deleting the unused entries (not recommended since some things come every other year) and (b) putting hard zeroes in the cash field. Since there were only five entries, I did the latter and it went fine after that.

Seriously, though, TurboTax's call support did a stellar job, after a disappointing experience using their online help.

Computers. Whatcha gonna do about them?

On to next year.

Now, where the hell can I find someone who can cash a check for €44.00? One of my banks doesn't want to do it, the other figures their "fees" will eat the whole amount. Right...

Dr. Phil
Tags: money, taxes, writing

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