Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A festival of fail: The IRS

I have a morning routine. It involves a nice cup of coffee, a home made muffin (this week is Strawberry) and some TV time before the long, painful commute to work. Sure, the walk from my living room to my home office may seem short to some people. But several times I've stubbed my toe on the coffee table. Have you ever stubbed your toe? Time slows down and it hurts.

Before I get to work I typically check my RSS reader like an old man would read the morning paper. I subscribe to a number of personal finance blogs and it just so happened the headline of "Don't forget to sign your tax return!" jumped out at me yesterday morning. Why? Because indeed I do not recall signing my tax return. My accountant flavored missus did all the nitty gritty paperwork for me and I mailed them. But I never even saw the thing outside of an envelope, let alone sign it.

After some frantic research I discovered that it was okay, that the IRS would simply send me a request for a signature in a couple of weeks. It's just take longer to get my return. Which is totally acceptable under normal circumstances. However, due to my rocking job I am required to file as an independent contractor. So I have to pay Uncle Sam a cut of my income from the year.

And if my check is not postmarked with the proper SIGNED paperwork prior to the 15th of April, I'll have to pay interest until it's processed. Which totally sucks and totally my fault.

However after some quick thinking and a trip down the street to the post office, I was able to file an extension for the return that I mailed two weeks prior. On the very last day. Even though the extension will be received well after my tax paperwork, it'll cover my ass until they mail me back my inappropriately filled out form to sign.

So no fees or fines, I'll just be receiving my refund adjustment a little later than I should be. Which is an acceptable punishment, I think.

Funny thing, though. I check the balance on our checking account daily. Yesterday morning I had one or two things waiting to clear. This morning Uncle Sam took out his money. But it didn't have the normal clearing period of 1 or 2 days. It was immediate and brutal. Good thing I didn't count on the slowness of the USPS and slack off on depositing the require funds. I now have $60 to my name. Whew. Close call.

So the lesson for today is: Don't trust the USPS to take it's time, read your RSS reader on tax day and ALWAYS REMEMBER TO SIGN YOUR RETURN.



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