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Bizarre tax silliness

The year I left the military I was supposed to file a "partial year return" with my current state of residence at that time. I didn't know this until I got a tax bill for the entire year's income from that state.

So I got an old copy of Turbotax State, filled in the blanks from my federal return, and sent it off. A few weeks ago I got the return back noting it was incomplete since I didn't attach my W-2 forms.

Okay, bear with me now - obviously they know how much I made, since they sent me the tax bill, so why do I have to attach the forms?

In fact, the same is true of Federal returns (tho not with e-filed returns) - the one form you are required to attach is the one form that your employer is required to file with the government. It's also the form that increases your tax obligation - you don't have to attach proof for any of the reductions in your tax obligation.

Ah, the joys of "we've always done it that way."

Philo

Philo
Sunday, February 22, 2004

'we've always done it that way' is probably right, but it's possible that having a copy of the w-2 gives them something to check their electronic copies against for fraud or mistakes

there was a good show on Frontline last week about the elaborate tax dodges used by corporations, which the IRS is powerless to prosecute, even though they account for a much bigger loss than anything us wee individual taxpayers might pull off

Jason
Sunday, February 22, 2004

When I was in the Army 18 years ago, I never got a W-2 for any of the years I served.  The Company Commander never mentioned anything about taxes, so being young and naive, I assumed that members of the armed forces didn't have to pay taxes.  I never once saw any of my fellow enlisted men filling out tax returns. Now that I think about it, it seems really strange.

Nick
Sunday, February 22, 2004

If you're working for the government, your pay comes from the government. If you pay taxes, your money goes to the government.

Normally when you get paid, your employer gives some money to the government and some money to you.

Government employees paying tax seems, well, somewhat pointless, really, although if you happen to have multiple income sources then it may be important for working out which tax bracket you're in.


Sunday, February 22, 2004

it has gotten better--as you mention, you don't need to send your w2 if you e-file. however, a few years ago you did--you'd e-file, then send off a 2-page return with the 'efile' form and w-2(s). i don't remember if you had to fill out yet another form for payments or if that was done all at once.

more bizarre sillyness: many forms are now available as form-mode PDFs, so you can fill them out on your computer, print, and send off. but some forms must be filled out on special paper. the reason they claim is that they're computer read, but why a computer would have an easier time reading handwriting on a red piece of paper as opposed to a properly-printed form is beyond me.

well not really--i think the affected forms are ones which are usually files electronically by businesses, and the few small people get the old technology shuffled off to them, a possibly rational reason.

mb
Sunday, February 22, 2004

This will get me flamed, but while we are on the subject of "we have always done it that way", maybe we need to question the entire concept of paying income taxes.

Tapiwa
Monday, February 23, 2004

Am I the only one who finds it bizarre that millions of people voluntarily comply with a system that forces them to divulge every minute detail of their personal finances to a government agency? That's the part I really hate.

And then the people who love taxes the most bitch about John Ashcroft. Sorry guys, you're trying to close the barn door, but the horse ran off many years ago. :)

Rob VH
Monday, February 23, 2004

Rob,

You think it's voluntary?  Try *not* paying your taxes. 

Tapiwa may be on to something...

eaw
Monday, February 23, 2004

Rob,

Whats more bizzare is people have NO CLUE how much tax they pay.  A coworker of mine was just telling me that she just finished filing her taxes online for the first time.  We got talking about taxes and I asked her how much tax she paid this year.  Her answer:  "None I got a refund!"

The gov't has done a good job brainwashing people into the idea of "take home pay". 
Gross salary?  what does that mean?

pathetic

apw
Monday, February 23, 2004

"why a computer would have an easier time reading handwriting on a red piece of paper as opposed to a properly-printed form"

OT, but I've worked with drop-out form software -- they scan it using colored light the same color the form is printed in, so that only the handwriting appears.  Then either spatial relationships between the fields or pre-printed black marks in the margins are used to decide what's what.  When displaying/printing the image for humans, you can overlay the form back on in the appropriate location.

It's much, much easier than the process used for removing black lines.  It's slow, and tends to leave little jaggy bits at any significant rotation, and you can't get rid of them without getting rid of stuff like punctuation or the dots of i's.  Even once you've done that, you have to restore overlapping strokes, like the bottom of y's and so on, which is difficult to tune.  Either you end up with a tendency when there's large print to glue in stray lines or dots or capital letters on the row below, or when you have light/thin print you fail to stick stuff back together and all the y's become v's.  Or both.

I think I'll stop now before everyone decides I'm insane.

Mikayla
Monday, February 23, 2004

Every year around tax season, you read the occasional article about how "income taxes are voluntary" and "the 16th amendment wasn't properly ratified".

I don't have the research to determine these claims' validity (and suspect they're false, unfortunately), but the point is that *even if they were true*,  it wouldn't make any difference to the average tax payer.

Because most people don't have the time or resources to confront the IRS, even if it were in the wrong.  Thnking about [the potential for] IRS abuse boils the blood. 

(My thanks for indulging the rant of another grumpy taxpayer.) 

eaw
Monday, February 23, 2004

Anyone run into the alternative minimum tax this year?  I always assumed AMT was something like 'you have to pay at least %10' or some crap. NO!  There is a whole separate schedule with subtly different rules from the main deduction rules which results in a fee that you add to your normally computed taxes.  Who the hell dreams up this crap.  Meanwhile the government pays Wachovia a tax rebate, and we've been paying companies to crush up coal squirt it with lighter fluid, and glue it back together (some alternate fuel tax rebate that has been abused recently)

Keith Wright
Monday, February 23, 2004

AMT, yep

http://www.hrblock.com/part7856124con974632SI3647816/rate_tables/altmintax.html

apw
Monday, February 23, 2004

ATM was originally devised to collect more tax from those who reported large deductions (itemized), it effectivly lowered the amount of the deduction (or elminiating it) and then taxing the resulting higher AGI at a fixed rate instead of a progressive one.

apw
Monday, February 23, 2004

AMT not ATM, mb

apw
Monday, February 23, 2004

I'm a black-hearted libertarian (as one of my coworkers puts it), but I find the arguments about the nature of the income tax incredibly silly. Fact is, we have an enormous government budget that has to be fed. If these tax protestors ever succeed in getting a judge to declare the income tax unconstitutional or something, Congress will pass an amendment to make it constitutional approximately one nanosecond later.

If you want to pay less tax, you have to reduce the size of the budget. These income tax protesters are just wasting their time, IMO.

Rob VH
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Oh yeah. And a significant fraction of these guys get sent to prison when their legal arguments don't quite work out.

Rob VH
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The arguments that the 16th amendment was not actually ratified depend upon the ridiculous idea that the fact that various states had slightly different punctuation in the ratifications they passed invalidates the ratifications.

The Supreme Court has found that no, in fact, the states are not required to ratify constitutional amendments with the exact same number of commas as the final text of the amendment!

These arguments are spurious and have been thoroughly debunked by the Supreme Court, which really is the point at which the buck stops when it comes to constitutional law. 

A good summary of 16th amendment issues can be found here:

http://www.apfn.org/apfn/16th.htm

Eric Lippert
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

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