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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Taxing time

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 10:01 am

The biggest idiot on the planet has filed his income taxes.

Yes, that would be me.

Based on my experience last year, I was pretty sure I was going to owe money to the IRS this year, so I put off doing my taxes until the last minute. Why send them my money and sooner than I have to, right?

"The last minute" was this past weekend, since next weekend I'm going to Indianapolis so my sister and I can fly out to our brother's place in Texas. And it was Sunday afternoon, since doing anything on Saturday would clearly be next to the last minute.

So about 3 p.m. Sunday, I stacked all the needed forms on the kitchen table next to my iPad and sat down with a cup of coffee so I could get started. Also based on last year, I knew TurboTax would take about an hour to walk me through the whole process. I'd be done by 4 and still have an hour to relax before getting to my Sunday chores of laundry and bill-paying.

Except, small problem: Your iPad needs to be updated before it can download and access the TurboTax app. Please update now. So I went to settings and downloaded the latest version of the operating system.

And two and a half hours later, the update was finally downloaded and installed.

And TurboTax would still not download. I went at it for longer than an hour, trying every single trick I have ever learned about stubborn computers and fiendish programs, all to no avail.

Then, about 7 p.m., four hours into this ghastly evening, I remembered something.

I do not download TurboTax. I never have. I use TurboTax online.

Oh.

I went to TurboTax online, filled in my user name and password (it's nothing less than a miracle that I remembered them), TurboTax immediately filled in all the information needed from last year's tax returns, and downloaded my W2 information into the proper slots (which still seems like magic to me), had me answer a series of questions, and, bing, bang, boom, 45 minutes later my taxes were filed electronically.

Discovering along the way that I did not owe the IRS this year. I'm getting a pretty nice refund.

Like I said. Biggest idiot on the planet.

And I was kidding a little bit about putting off doing my taxes because I thought I would owe money. I put it off every year, even when I know I'll be getting a hefty refund, because that's just the way I am, a procrastinator's procrastinator. Why do something unpleasant quickly and get it behind you when you can keep it there in your head for months to brood about day and night?

The amount of time Americans have to spend on taxes each year is staggering. This is from three years ago, but I'm sure it still holds true today.

 According to U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., it takes United States taxpayers a total of 6.1 billion hours to file their taxes. That adds up to more than 695,000 years.

"6.1 Billion hours a year, just to figure out how much money the government is going to take," she said in a post on Twitter.

Politifact found that number "startling," so decided to fact check the representative.

The number is an estimate, but it's from a credible, independent report. We rate this statement True.

So there you have it. Add in at least 6.1 billion more hours that people like me spend brooding about taxes, and you have an even more accurate and disturbing figure. To paraphrase a certain late senator: a few billion hours here, a few billion hours there, and pretty soon we're talking about real time.

Republicans in Congress have been talking about tax reform for years and years, and given President Trump's campaign pledge and the fact that the GOP is running the whole show now, it might actually get done. But you know they'll just tinker around the edges. In a million years, they won't do what they should and give us either a flat tax or the fair tax, some kind of plan that would let us figure our taxes in five minutes and enter our returns on forms the size of postcards.

Doing that would mean the federal government giving up the ability to use the tax code for social engineering and pushing the citizenry in the directrion it wants us to go. A free people would rise up and demand that the government do exactly that. But a dependent people would be horrified at the very idea. Seen anybody rising up lately?

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Harvard is dropping the reference to the school's Puritan founders in the lyrics of its 181-year-old alma mater because it's not "inclusive."

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