April 5th, 2019

moneybear

IRS Blues

The other day I got a letter in the mail from the IRS. That's never a good thing. As I opened it up I wondered how I had screwed up. Maybe it was just a few bucks. Nope. Instead of getting a small refund I now owed almost $3000. WTF?!?! I knew the only place I could have really screwed up was in a worksheet I had to do using paper and pencil. I glanced at the work that I had done and immediately realized that I had screwed up very badly. I don't recall being THAT drunk when I did the numbers. Of course all of this made the sleep study the other night so much better because I had numbers rolling around my brain while I tried to sleep.

Yesterday I stared at the worksheet that I had to fill out and realized that a good check would be if I could put it in a spreadsheet. The calculations and logic statements were easy enough. Why not give it a shot? In less than an hour I had a functioning spreadsheet that covered all 44 lines of calculations needed. I plugged in a few numbers and in a few seconds I saw that I did indeed owe $2,716. I then rechecked the IRS letter, and to my amazement saw that they were requesting payment of $2,716. So my numbers were correct, but more importantly I was proud of myself for having the skills to develop a digital solution in such a short period of time. It then made me furious to think that if little ol' me with little computing skills could do this, why the hell couldn't a programmer working for the IRS write the code to provide this simple solution to all taxpayers?!? The numbers I had to hand-enter could easily be imported from other IRS forms already filled out. The tax computations could easily be handled by simple lookup tables. In other words the entire thing could be automated with some very simple programming. It also shows that the IRS is fully capable of filling out your taxes for you. But as I have written here in the past, any efforts to automate the process usually get shot down in Congress thanks to lobbying by Intuit, H&R Block, and CPAs. That's why I'm loathe to have a professional do mine since the math involved is not that difficult. And now I have my spreadsheet to help me in next year's endeavors. That will help immensely!