Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oh, The Joys of Electronic Tax Filing

I hate my computer. I mean, seriously hate, hate, HATE my computer. Well, okay, so sometimes I love it. I love the ease of sending information to other people. I love being instantly connected to forms, data, information, programs, customers, e-mails, friends, family, Facebook…well, you get the drift.

But when my computer doesn’t cooperate or work properly? Yep, HATE it.

I decided to file my taxes electronically, despite last year’s fiasco when I couldn’t get stuff to work and ended up mailing the form in like all those other folks clinging to outdated 20th century modes of communication.

This year I was determined to get it to work.

So I gathered the booklet and forms and calculator and gamely started filling out the paperwork. Hey, what can I tell you? I am only inching along to 21st century practices. Mostly because I didn’t want any surprises like finding out I owed the IRS money!

Anyway, I filled out the paperwork and, once I assured myself that I was, indeed, due a refund, I accessed the IRS website for the online forms.

My first hurdle was creating a user name and password. This is apparently not as easy as it sounds. The system did not like the password I selected, even though I used the appropriate number of letters, numerals and special characters, as required. In desperation, I made up another password and – voila! – it was accepted. Oh, the heady feeling of success!

But then I hit a snag. And this was the beginning of my newfound hatred of my computer. Apparently, some software was outdated and I needed to update it before I could continue. So I did. It took freakin’ For. Ev. Er. And then I had to log out of all my other software programs so the computer could restart.

Finally (after playing countless rounds of “Angry Birds” on my cell phone), my computer cooperated and I was able to file my taxes online. Once sent, however, I received an automated message telling me that it would take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to learn if the IRS accepted my filing.

Fortunately, my tax return must have been in order because after the 24-hour deadline I did receive a “Congratulations!” message. Yippee!

My next task was to file my Ohio tax return. I figured this would be a much simpler process because I’d already mastered the federal tax website. Ha! Little did I know…

Once again I hauled out my trusty calculator and did the figuring on paper and then accessed the official State of Ohio website. And, once again, I was snottily informed that I didn’t have the latest version of some piece of free software and had to upgrade it.

Which I did.

Several times.

And had to restart my computer.

Several times.

And every time I went back to the screen to access the form, it told me the same thing – that I hadn’t updated my software. Grrrrr.

I don’t know this for certain, but I’d say there is an IT geek sitting in some dark corner of the Ohio Department of Taxation building who is sniggering to himself because he wrote this glitch into the program and he knows he’s creating angst in all sorts of people like me.

So I spent a moment colorfully cursing out this imagined IT geek. It didn’t solve my problem, but it did make me feel a little better.

Then I took a deep breath and decided to try one of the other online options, just to see what sort of torture I could put myself through. Shockingly, I was successful this time and was able to file my taxes electronically.


Now, let’s just hope that I wasn’t so flummoxed and cross-eyed by the time I entered my checking account information, that I didn’t reverse a couple digits and some stranger ends up with my money. I mean, after all this hassle, I totally DESERVE that measly little refund!

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