And You Thought Your Taxes Were Frustrating
January 30, 2015 : Mel Bondar – Guest ContributorLeer en español
Ed note: We see it all at H&R Block. People who have shoeboxes of receipts. People who haven’t filed in years. But when Mel told me about her experience, I gasped a little. It was too good a story to pass up.
I am an experience chaser. My Facebook is full of crazy pictures from all over the world, weird jobs and strange experiences and I’ve got to say, it’s been a pretty awesome life so far.
But sometimes, a life that produces awesome Facebook albums also creates some unusual tax paperwork. And by unusual I mean, “Good lord, what is happening here?” as the W-2s start to pour in come January.
I’ve always managed to be pretty self-sufficient despite the onslaught of tax forms, but last year pushed me over the edge. You see, I had run away with the circus.
I learned how to walk on a low wire and narrowly missed being kicked by horses dozens of times. I saw all sorts of cool things around America but had also received W-2s from 20 states. Sweet mother of pearl.
Suffice to say, the automated tax program I’d used previous years could not handle the onslaught. I sunk into despair. I wondered, what exactly happens if you don’t pay your taxes because you’re so incredibly overwhelmed?
After I recovered from my pit of despair (because, to my horror, hiding in bed at my parents’ house did not magically get my taxes filed), I hauled myself down to the local H&R Block.
I walked into H&R Block and met the lovely and awesome Wendy. Then I promptly dumped my massive pile of W-2s on her desk.
Wendy was completely professional and on top of things. She started busting out all the different states’ tax codes. She told me in a few of them I didn’t even need to file because of how much I’d made, although I was delighted to learn that my average weekly salary was just over what triggers the need to file in nearly every state.
Through this process, I learned important tax related state-by-state facts like:
- Folks who live in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming are brilliant, because there is no state income tax there.
- People who live in Tennessee and New Hampshire are pretty clever since their income tax is limited to only dividend and interest income.
- New Jersey is not a smart place to be from.
- It’s difficult to figure out where you “live” when it is actually on a circus train and you don’t own any property anywhere.
Three hours later, I left H&R Block with my taxes filed and the reassurance that if the elephant poop hit the fan, they’d be by my side to figure out how to wade through it.
Overall, my advice if you’ll be filing multiple state tax returns:
- Organization: Keep all of your paperwork together in one place. It’s easy to start losing forms where there are that many.
- Stay Calm: It feels overwhelming when something you used to handle just fine becomes incredibly complicated.
- Get Help: Tax professionals are there for a reason! Something that seems confusing to you is just another day at the office for them. Use their expertise to make sure you don’t wind up on an IRS audit list.