In Hell every day's Apr 15

Voice Card  -  Volume 19  -  John Card Number 8  -  Wed, Apr 3, 1991 2:39 AM

Man O man do I hate filling out my taxes each year! My finances are absurdly simple - they couldn't get much simpler! - and yet I always have to go through hours of misery and cursing and paper crumpling. By the end of it I'm little more than a puddle on the floor.

I just wanted to make a few observations while I'm still steamed. First of all: what kind of FIENDS design these tax booklets? If you were going to provide instructions for schedules A,B,C,D, and E what order would you put them in? Alphabetical order, maybe? WRONG! Too simple. The IRS has a much better ordering: A,B,D,E,C.

Fortunately, you say to yourself, there's a table of contents. Well, yes and no. Yes, there is a table of contents. But guess what? Several crucial sections aren't listed! For example, do you want to know how to fill out a form 4562? (Neither did I, but play along...) Go ahead - look in the table of contents. No luck, eh? Keep looking. Ah, there it is right on page one. No, not the first page one. The THIRD page one. Just after page 56!

Actually, you might be better off if you didn't find the instructions for a 4562. Here's a typical sentence from page 2 (the third page 2):

"The mid-quarter convention (MQ) applies instead of the half-year convention if the aggregate bases of property subject to depreciation under section 168 that is placed in service during the last three months of your tax year exceeds 40% of the aggregate bases of property subject to depreciation under section 168 that is placed in service during the entire tax year."

Of course this is a much simpler convention than the Mid-month convention (MM) which ONLY applies to "residential property, nonresidential real property (lines 14g or 14h), and railroad gratings and tunnel bores." TUNNEL BORES?!! ARRRRRRRRRG.

You may wonder how I ended up reading about tunnel bores. Well, it's like this. I was chugging merrily along in my 1040 when I hit line 48 which told me to attach Schedule SE. OK, I'm self-employed, I guess that's fair enough. So off I go to schedule SE. Let's see. Do I fall under section A or B? (Brief pause while I fill out a worksheet which involves bails of hay and am I a minister and do I report all my tips...) AHA! It's section A for me. Uh oh. Line 2 of section A requires a number from line 29 of Schedule C.

Off I go to Schedule C. Wait a second! I filled out a schedule C last year! I can just copy over most of the information. Oops. They've changed the form again. Now question e is question f and question f is question e. Very tricky, these IRS guys. OK, where are those instructions. Of course! Right after schedule E (that's schedule E, not question E). Let's see, what method did I use to value closing inventory. Huh? What inventory?

Two hours later: At last! A deduction I can actually qualify for. Car and truck expenses! I had car expenses, didn't I? Sure I did. What's this? OH NOOOOOOOOOOOO! "Attach form 4562." What in the hell is a 4562? AMORTIZATION?? I don't even know what that IS! Why do I have to fill THAT one out? Oh well, I better have a look at it. OH MY GOD! "Estimated time to learn about this form: 3 hrs, 41 min. Estimated time to prepare this form: 4 hrs, 23 min."

I guess I'd better start reading the instructions. Oh here they are, on the second page one after page 56. Let's see. I guess I have to decide on a convention. What's the difference between HY and MQ? Hmmm. What's this? TUNNEL BORES?!! ARRRRRRRG!

One last question. Roger, how can you STAND to fill these things out day after day?