Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fourth Day of Work

I left the building for lunch. Talk... about... HUGE. I ate lunch for the first time without looking at a tax return. I deserved it, though- keep reading.

Today was the day of double deductions! I was working on the return for a husband and wife couple, with each partner owning their own business. The pair submitted paperwork to the firm about all of their business's activities for the last year. Well, I had to sort through page after page of useless schedules in an attempt to find the few schedules of actual substance. I began to enter figures into the tax software, coding each with a "T" for taxpayer or an "S" for spouse (see note at end), when I noticed that many of the figures were the same for both partners' businesses. Not only that, there were some expenses that were claimed as one partner's business expense, and the other partner's personal expense. Talk about confusing!

Throw in a half-dozen mortgages, interest and dividends from dozens of accounts, a living trust, foreign investment taxes paid, charitable contributions, a half-dozen W-2s, and various 1099 forms that I didn't even know existed, and the result is quite obviously a GARGANTUAN MESS. So, the fact that there were duplications of many expenses that the clients wanted deducted just added to the already insane nature of this return. I think the client was expecting a single expense to be deducted in several places, but I wasn't fooled. There's no doubling up- you get it once and that's it!

A few more things truly made this the tax return from hell: the clients want all the original documents back once the return is filed, and the clients' business activities took place across multiple states. As icing on the cake, there were so many 1098 forms that I was unable to determine exactly which paired with each of the numerous properties...yet, at least.

Getting out of the office for lunch, in the middle of this natural disaster, was my daily slice of heaven. It was about 65 degrees F when I went for a sandwich. Later in the afternoon, I was almost lucky enough to spend time responding to correspondence from the IRS... but the task above consumed most of my day. Darn. : (

I will add that this particular husband/wife couple is UNBELIEVABLY LUCKY that I'm not being billed to clients yet. I'm still reporting my hours as "training," per my supervisor's instructions. I assure you, though, that the sheer amount of crap that had to be sorted through would've taken any CPA just as long as it took me.

Note: I code each partner of a joint return as the "Taxpayer" or the "Spouse" so that, even though the pair may be filing jointly, informational/phony "married filing separately" returns can be produced for the couple to see the tax implications of filing separately.

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