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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Girl of constant sorrow






I don't mind the theory behind taxes. People pay money to the government, which then uses money to feed the poor, educate children, pave roads, and cure cancer.  I love all that stuff.  
But the 2008 tax returns were a troubling time for me … a time that has still left repercussions on my life today, weeks after April 15.  I chose to forgo my dad’s accountant this year, since I am (as I believe has been previously mentioned) impoverished.  Instead, I took a trip to the good folks at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, who were willing to file my taxes for free, free, free. 

Now, to be clear, everything I say from this point on should in no way reflect on 90% of the VITA people.  In fact, a good friend recommended this program to me, and so I had nothing but high hopes.

At the end of this lovely process, I found myself in the position of owing to the State of Utah $2,000.  How can this be? says I, a lowly research assistant who made $10 an hour during the spring of last year.

Oh, said the VITA person, you made money in Arizona when you did that summer internship with a law firm.

But nay, I reply, I paid taxes on that money to Arizona!  Forsooth, tis but true!

(The subject of my most recent tax return makes me a little early American revolutionary.) 

To which the VITA person sadly shook their head – poor, math-challenged law student – and explained that Utah was entitled to glom onto the money that I made in Arizona, since Utah was my primary residence. 

This seemed … I don’t know what the word for it is … “unconstitutional,” perhaps?  And as I sat, baffled, the helpful VITA people electronically submitted my taxes for me.

The next day, I was still so bothered by this whole taxed-by-every-state-I-entered-in-2008 thing (despite being grateful for the failed-to-mention-vacations-to-California-and-DC-lest-they-tax-me-too thing), I went to go see my dad’s accountant after all.  And he found several mistakes in my tax returns in under 2 minutes of review that could have saved me the $2,000 dollars, plus $100 more from the feds. 

I say “could have” because remember how the VITA people ELECTRONICALLY SUBMITTED MY TAXES FOR ME? 

Now I wait for the State of Utah to act on my amended tax return and send the money back. Which, despite Utah’s reputation for conservatism and low tax burdens, I don’t see happening any time soon.  

So you're probably wondering, Hey, this happened over a month ago - why are you complaining about it now?  Well my friends, I am complaining now because now I really want some Cafe Rio ... but can't afford it.  I would like to stay in Salt Lake for the summer, but instead I am packing my apartment so I can move back in with my parents while I study for the bar.  Also, I got a really cute swimming suit from Victoria Secret that I ordered and paid for months ago (when I wasn't broke) that finally arrived after back-order, and I feel like I should return it because really, I have a Target version that's very similar.  

Ugh, fiscal responsibility.

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