Monday, April 02, 2007

Do Your Own Taxes

With disability forms to fill out, and taxes, there's not a lot of the few functional hours of the day left for blogging. Today has been highly productive relative to the last half year, as I made a field trip to the grocery store to buy some now-very-expensive freshly squeezed orange juice since the orange crop in the Central Valley got frozen. After not having been to a grocery store in half a year, it's kind of like going to an amusement park.

It appears that tax preparers get paid a lot of money for punching in the same numbers into TurboTax or whatever software that most people could do themselves. It appears that old people like my dad don't realize that the paper questionnaire that the tax preparer gives clients to fill out is similar to the questions TurboTax asks you. So if you can fill out the paper questionnaire, you can pretty much do your own taxes, even if you have more complicated stuff like a business or property rentals and sales, and save a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. As for the few cases where knowledge of tax details might help reduce taxes owed, I'm a bit doubtful that most of them aren't already programmed into the software.

Except that I can't reproduce my tax-preparer-prepared taxes from 2005 using TurboTax 2005, as a pre-exercise to see if I can do this year's taxes myself, because I don't know what or where he punched in some property and depreciation values, and I figure it should have continuity until I sell my condo. I guess I should have just done my own taxes last year.

I just saw in the TurboTax Help that renting to family or friends at below-market can be considered personal use, which I guess means you can just report the rental income and not deal with the business use tax issues. Why didn't I find that sort of information last year after endless Google-searching and poring over IRS documents?

Now I'm pondering, what if you let a friend inhabit a room in your house for free, and they give you $12,000 of gift money per year?


Lara said...

hey, i have nothing to say on the tax front. just wanted to say i'd been thinking of you after not seeing any blogging from you in over a week. i'm glad to see you got out to grocery-store-land for a bit, and you're finding some productivity with taxes too. big bloggy hugs to you!