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Sunday, April 16, 2006

2005 tax notes

I just finalized Allie's, Laura's and my 2005 tax returns.

All three of us were able to use the TurboTax Free File Edition to fill out and print the federal forms. But, none of us opted to pay the $9.95 to electronically file through Turbo Tax. At 39 cents, the U.S. Mail should be good enough to do the trick.

We used the Illinois Department of Revenue's "fast, easy and secure" web based system to fill out and electronically file our state returns. Not only was it totally fast and easy, it was even free.

As for the secure part of either of TurboTax and the Illinois system, well, I'll be holding my breath for the next few decades in the hope they don't get hacked.

On another note, if you live in Illinois, or any other state that has sales or use tax, you may owe taxes on purchases made over the internet. If the retailer was not located in your state, chances are it didn't charge you sales tax. Purchases can be for consumer goods, tobacco, medical supplies and drugs.

As of now, paying this tax in Illinois is strictly on a voluntary basis. However, it should be noted that Illinois is aggressively stepping up its collection efforts in this regard. Or, so they say. If they're not, they should. We're talking billions of dollars. Anyway, if they have to come after you, you'll not only owe the tax, but also interest and penalties.

Oh, back to the federal tax. I'm taking a survey: Are you donating $3.00 to the Presidential Election Fund through your tax return? Of all the people I've asked (about eight, so far), none are. Personally, I don't recall having ever elected to make this donation. I guess I'd rather they have to fight and beg for their campaign money, instead of me handing it to them on a silver platter.

Posted by Marie at April 16, 2006 2:10 AM


Actually, I do. About every other year.

I mark "yes" for Angela, too, if I think I can get away with it.

It's reflexive; when I was 17 filing my first return a friend told me it reduced the chances of getting audited. It's created an unnatural fear of checking "No." :)

Posted by: ben at April 16, 2006 3:15 AM

i've always kicked in the three bucks, for purely idealistic reasons. i did it this year too, despite knowing that accepting these funds hamstrung john kerry pretty severely.

this year's taxes angered me severely. i always phoned them in before and it was a super-easy, ten minute automated process that took care of both state and federal in one go. this year, we're forced to go to private companies, who all want to trick us into paying or make the process as complex as possible. i started with turbotax, but as soon as i found out you had to pay to e-file i stopped. why even bother doing it online if it's not going to be free? i ended up going with h&r block where e-filing was free, BUT after spending all the time figuring out the return i found i couldn't e-file without having *last year's* adjusted gross income. luckily i had my 04 return laying around, but this whole process was horribly mismanaged.

Posted by: jason at April 16, 2006 8:14 AM

I used to throw in the $3 but now I don't. I don't like the idea of helping all of the candidates. I prefer to give it to the one I select but I haven't been excited about a Presidential candidate in many, many years.

Posted by: Rob at April 16, 2006 10:32 AM

I do, but Bill doesn't. He calls it the "good government fund". The first year we were married I checked yes for both of us and he made it very clear he wanted his box checked NO. So now it's split with mine always yes, and his always no.

Posted by: jill at April 16, 2006 10:52 AM

No I didn't.

Posted by: Don Ray at April 16, 2006 1:04 PM

I do every year.

It's a shame that our presidential elections are still financed in the way they are.

Election finance reform is the most critical issue of our time. If we could end the current system, we could impose a system which would reconnect politicians to voters.


Posted by: JeromeProphet at April 18, 2006 12:27 AM