Monday, April 15, 2013

The Inevitable, Sigh. Taxes

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Every year, my thought processes are exactly the same.

January: Oh, taxes. I'd better start thinking about them. This year, I'm going to do them early, get them done, and be SO happy. But this is only January--this is too soon. I'll think about it later.
People in the 1920s doing their taxes--irrelevant but funny
February: Yikes, I have all my receipts in a nice file, but there sure are a LOT of them. I should organize them, and start adding them all up NOW. Remember? (I say to myself ) how HORRIBLE it is to wait until the last minute? How EVERY YEAR you wait until the last minute? This year, you're gonna be smart, and do your taxes way in advance. But this--this is too soon. Isn't it?

March: Oh, no. It's next month. Holy moly I have fifty million receipts, and all I need to do is add them up. DO it, Hank! But no, I don't do it.
  Tick, tock, March goes by.

April: APRIL! I blew it! Now I have to hurry, oh, yikes, where's the calculator, where's the paper. We have no calculator, and even if we did, it would be too difficult. Okay, this Sunday (two weeks before the deadline or so) I'm DOING it. Because our accountant will be so annoyed if I'm late.

April 7 or so:  I add up everything and send to my accountant. Grumbling and complaining. But whew.

Just so you know
May: This year, I'm going to be ORganized.I'm gong to get some sort of, I don't know. Computerized thing. And do it as I go. yeah. Definitely.

June: Plenty of time. (Stuffs receipts in file...)

Well, you get the picture. I NEVER learn. How do you handle your..sigh...taxes? Are you more organized than I am?

HALLIE EPHRON: Confession: I would SO MUCH rather do my taxes than write my new book. Taxes are mindless, satisfying, and there's only one more or less "right" answer. You know when you're done. So I get it started well in advance and I'm super-organized along the way.

Bo-ring, but there you are.

Mary Poppins:  First of all, I would like to make one thing quite clear.
Mr. Banks: Yes?
Mary Poppins: I never explain anything.
HANK: Argh. Hallie, you know I adore you, and you are—what did Mary Poppins say about herself? Practically perfect in every way. And CONGRATULATIONS on making the Boston Globe bestseller list! Hurray! And now, Rhys.  I know how much you love taxes. ;-)

RHYS BOWEN: Taxes? Please don't mention the word. I'm just recovering from the shock of having bought a new stealth bomber for the US military and single handedly funded the invasion of North Korea. I have a set of file drawers and shove receipts into the correct one all year, but that doesn't make it easier. I try to estimate but I'm never right. And I do my own taxes. I consulted a tax lawyer a few years ago and the actual computation isn't hard, now it's on my H and R Block computer program, but it's the matching receipts to events in my agenda, adding up totals etc. And then the paying.... sigh.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Well, I was pretty pleased this year - I spent less (work expenses) than the year before and that's a good thing. I keep a folder all year long and throw things in it. Every once in a while during the year I'll clip like things together. Then in January I hand it all to my husband and he hands it all to a nice woman named Nancy. If Nancy ever retires we could be screwed.

You can't see these, right? They're Stealth 
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hank, you've been spying on me, right???  Rhys, I thought I had paid for the Stealth Bomber... Hallie, you can come organize me anytime. Every year I swear I'm going to get everything done on time. 

I just had a text from our accountant saying she's filing our extension.

Our Sue is the most patient woman in the world. If she ever retires--or gets totally fed up with me--I think I'll have to leave the country.

when it all started...
LUCY BURDETTE: Hallie, what say I send you my folder and you send me your book?? Hank described my process exactly: when I finally finish, it doesn't seem so bad. If only I'd make little envelopes for all the categories or type the stuff into a spreadsheet...but I don't. And now I'm once again in the season of dread...and John is waiting...

HANK:  Yeah, Lucy and Debs. Great idea!  Next year--we're ALL sending our receipts to Hallie! So how about you, dear Reds? Because the question is so nicely alliterative: when it comes to taxes, are you a Hank or a Hallie?


  1. Tax forms are far less interesting than a good book. Congratulations, Hallie, on making the Boston Globe bestseller list . . . .

    I can keep a bookkeeping ledger and balance the checkbook, but that’s about as far as my ability to deal effectively with numbers seems to stretch. As for the taxes . . . it’s a numbers thing and, like driving directions, totally beyond my understanding. So the extent of my participation in the whole tax preparation endeavor is to simply give everything to my husband . . . and, voilĂ , the magic happens. It’s a good thing one of us gets the whole numbers thing . . . .

  2. Unfortunately, the accountant that handled our taxes for 19 years retired this year, so we were on our own! (I did some shopping to other firms, went into 'sticker shock' at the current estimates, mumbled several profanities, and dug both heels in and determined to do it the old fashioned way - by ourselves!)

    Took an entire weekend, and multiple attempts to get eFile working properly, but once done it was done. Not as painful as anticipated, not as much fun as say a weekend in Vegas.

    One of those annual chores that must be done, whether we like it or not.

  3. Sorry, hit the wrong key. I DID learn some *very* hard lessons about being organized and ready, so an entire drawer has been revamped, color coded, and organized. No two ways about it, if you can get and stay organized throughout the year, it helps immeasurably when the time comes to start sorting!

  4. Joy rain to the extravagance span out not at blow dissertation samples,.

  5. Okay, now the accountant says we still have sign ours...better do that.

    Joan,your husband sounds like a truly good guy. Wow.

    And William,you rock! And now,if you did your taxes,um,successfully ,you can STILL go to Vegas!

    Happy MArathon Day to all runners! It's a holiday (for some) here in MAssachusetts...but just there, right?

  6. I'm definitely a Hank when it comes to taxes. I dropped ours off last Monday and still haven't heard back from our accountant. It's looking like an extension is in my future...again.

  7. Holiday in Maine, too, Hank, although we mostly try to forget we were part of Massachusetts until 1820. We get an extra day to file state taxes, but not federal.

    I organize as I go and give the totals to our accountant. No way could we do it ourselves. I have the self employed writer thing going and my allegedly retired husband has the Christmas tree farm and the woodworking business. Our return this year was as thick as a novella ms.

  8. I have only one thing to say about taxes this year... thank God for extensions!

  9. OH, Laurie,at least there is such a thing, right?

    ANd yeah, Kathy--it is sort of a memoir, right? You think--I spent all that money on--what?

    ANd I did forget--if I ever knew--that Maine was a part of MAssachusetts. We didn't get an extra day this year, much to our accountant's dismay.

  10. I'm a Hank, or rather, my husband is. I collect everything nicely throughout the year, ask for the list of things we forget every year (and swear we are going to write down so we don't forget...again), and then--I wait for him to sit down and do it. (I do other things! Taxes are all his.) Filed for the extension late last night. *sigh* Oh, well. So glad I'm (we're) not alone.

  11. Our house is just like Lexie's Mom. My wife collects everything, then turns it over to me to get them done. We had to have an extension last year (odd circumstances) and I swore I'd never do that again. I mean, six more months of thinking about damn taxes? Those puppies get done before the deadline!

  12. First, congrats to Hallie on the Boston Globe bestseller list.

    I'm kind of in the middle. Ours are still pretty standard; we should have done it earlier, but oh well. The kicker is the local income taxes - especially since the locals seem to have "lost" record of a quarterly payment. But I have the bank records to prove that they cashed our check, so nyah!

    Next year (this year?) terrifies me though. I'll probably have to file a Schedule C because of the advances from my ebook contracts. Eeek! Guess I better save those receipts!

  13. Celebrating Patriots Day here in Maine. Morning Sox game and the marathon. Always fun. It used to be more fun during the time I lived near Lexington and Concord. I miss the colonial atmosphere of that area.

    My father used to wait until the last minute to finish his taxes. It's a childhood memory. For some reason I've followed along in his footsteps. I did our taxes last week but hearing that today is April 15th I still cringe and have a temporary fear that they aren't done. I'm not an organized person but I do keep track of receipts and stuff during the year. I have everything early but, with that family tradition thing, I wait until April to file. How silly!

  14. My sister is a CPA who offered to do my taxes for free after my divorce. Since most of my income is unearned (though I'll argue to my death that I earned every damn penny of the alimony), I have to do estimated quarterly payments. And since my income has gone up each year (last year I got a part-time job working for my divorce firm -- God *does* have a sense of humor), not only did I owe money this year to the infernal revenue folks, my quarterly payments went up.

    But I keep track of all my income and expenses on Quicken. I can categorize them -- medical, writing-related, etc. I keep folders in my filing cabinet for receipts (though I still have to sort them out come January). I also keep a desk calendar where I write EVERYTHING, so it's a great way to calculate mileage (medical mileage as well as writing-related).

    Because she does mine for free, I hate to wait til the last minute, so I try to have everything to her mid-February. I scan it all and email it. Her brain and her computer whiz and whirl and figure it all out and usually around mid-March I have my return. She sends a form I sign so she can file it electronically. And bless her, she even sends me the coupons and ADDRESSED envelopes for my quarterly payments!

    I mailed my checks last week though it was only for federal. Oddly, I got a refund from the state -- big enough I don't owe them again until September. And it would have been worse but I had huge medical deductions because I was in a wreck on 12/30/11 and all the medical treatment including a surgery occurred in 2012. Still haven't settled with the other driver's insurance company.

    And I'll stop this novella. LOL


  15. Our accountant retired two years ago. It was a saaad day. But then we found a woman just as good and easy to work with -- yay! (And I'm on the Hallie end of the spectrum -- but Mr. Right is not!)

  16. I'm more of a Hallie, but since I do everyone in my family's taxes, my mom is more of a Hank...making me be a Hank. :)

  17. I used to do income tax returns as part of my job of CPA. Now I am self unemployed, as I like to put it, but still doing those fricking taxes. My son's, my parents', my brother's, ours,.....Aagh. Thank god for turbotax. Doing isn't hard. Getting all the info together is the hard part for me. And with e-filing I don't even have to forge my husband's signature anymore on the return. He doesn't even know how we come out each year, so if there's a refund. . .

  18. MArysuttonauthor--can't complain about making money from your book, though, right? Hurray!

    And Terry, Im with ya. Why drag it out...sigh.

    Nothing like taxes to make the year go by quickly...

  19. Lexies MOm--yeah, there is some solace in that...sharing the misery.

    Mrianne in Maine--I used to cover the marathon for Channel 7,back in my general assignment days. We'd have to be up at 3am to get i our was often tremendous fun, and always exciting. Evven on the rainy days.

    I was often assigend tocomver the woman runners, which meant I rodei the back of a pickup truck wired for live I rode the course backwards, racing the runners! When Id see the sign Welcome to Ashland, I knew that meant I was LEAVING Ashland. So funny!

  20. Marilyn--isn't that fascinating? Looking back on it? Forgive me..but since lots of us are pretty intersting how taxes are like a memoir.

  21. William Simon - had to laugh at "not as much fun as a weekend in Vegas." For me, a weekend in Vegas would be pure torture. Noise, crowds losing money, and way too much to eat... notavacation.

  22. And just for the record: I want to be Hank. :)

  23. Hooray! Hallie, my dear, then come right over here to my office. You have SO MUCH TO DO!!

  24. Congrats to Hallie on making the Boston Globe bestseller list. Woot! And on having your taxes all organized and done. I tend toward the Hank spectrum--like totally.

    Every year, I say (just said it to my husband after organizing and categorizing and adding up receipts) this year I will set up an Excel file and record and categorize as we go along--and set up a savings account to keep the tax portion of each payment I get. And I never do.

    But this year, I swear I will!

  25. Well, Linda--we'll be watching youuuuuuu!

    ANd hey--what's the timing on the new book?

  26. I am TOTALLY a last-minute Hank type. Plus, I share the same long-suffering CPA as Debs. She's right. That woman is a saint. But NEXT year I'll get on top of it. NEXT year I'll get everything in on time. And NEXT year the Cubs will win the World Series.

  27. Well, congratulations on making so much money, if you bought us a Stealth Bomber. (Price tag: $1.5 billion--with a "b")

    Hank, the key to getting a handle on your receipts is to total by the month. Then you only have 12 figures to add together in April.

    I've done our taxes for 30 years, ever since our old accountant told me I could do them, since I was already pulling up all the figures to plug in. Using Quicken, and later QuickBooks, it was easy to keep track of expenses and income. (When my middle daughter was in high school I paid her to input receipts. Money well spent.)

    TurboTax came out a few years later, and I've used it ever since. When we were audited about 15 years ago, the examiner said that people who use tax prep software tend to be more honest and careful. That would certainly describe me; I keep every single receipt and take every possible deduction.

    This year we ended up getting a big refund, which means we overpaid our estimated taxes last year. Hate it when that happens.

    I wonder if Hank is on the scene at the explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. What a mess. Praying for the victims.

  28. Where is Jan? She was posting pics during the Marathon.

  29. I've been trying to get onto WDHD, Channel 7 in Boston, for the last 40 minutes, but their site seems to be down.

    Hank, I hope you're okay.

  30. WHDH folks are tweeting . . . following that at
    but I did not see a tweet specifically from Hank . . . . Praying for all those affecting and hoping that Hank is okay . . . .

  31. News sites are clogged. Keep up on twitter.

  32. Someone on Facebook said she saw Hank give a live report a few minutes ago.

  33. oh, ah, I’ve been on the air—announcing it-- when we had no idea what happened. Incredibly frightening.. but we’re fine..

    more to come Love you all

  34. So relieved you are okay, Hank. And Jan. Other JRWs in the area?