Joanne Palmer: Celebrating the universal extension
April 10, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Procrastinators rejoice!
The IRS has granted you a two-day extension for filing your taxes. Yes, you have two more days to delay. The traditional April 15 filing deadline falls on a Sunday this year, and the following Monday is a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., so the tax deadline is April 17 this year.
Most of us have a love-hate relationship with income taxes. If you're getting a refund, you love them. If not, you hate them. There really is no middle ground.
The unusually warm spring has made it particularly difficult to stay inside and get down to finding those W-2s, 1099s and long-lost receipts, which may be one reason why, according to an article in the Northern Colorado Business Report, as of March 12 only one-third of Colorado taxpayers had filed their returns.
There are four personality types when it comes to filing taxes:
■ The Early Birds: These people have their taxes done in January. Why? They are organized. They keep a little notebook in their car to track mileage, which they will later deduct. Did you know, for example, you can deduct the mileage getting to and from any volunteer work you do? I did not. They do. Their receipts are all filed neatly away in color-coded files rather than jammed into a box marked "tax stuff." They can tell you what they spend on groceries every week, they balance their checkbooks to the penny and they understand what the heck those health flexible spending accounts are all about.
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These overachievers buy their Christmas wrapping paper on sale Dec. 26 and have their Christmas presents purchased, wrapped and hidden away by Nov. 1. They alphabetize their spices, color code their closets and never, ever forget a birthday. Curiously, none of these people's names show up on the contact list in my not-so-smartphone.
■ The Do-It-Yourselfers: By golly, they don't need an accountant because they can do it themselves. They live, eat and breathe Turbo Tax. They spend all year thinking about ways to outsmart the IRS. They can bore you to tears describing, in exhaustive detail, every tax code ever created. They are up to speed on what tax credits have been eliminated (Making Work Pay, credit for buying a hybrid vehicle and credit for first-time homebuyers, for example). They have even figured out a way to deduct the air we all breathe. These are the same people who love to spend their weekends stripping wallpaper in order to faux paint their master suite.
■ The Procrastinators: These folks wait until April 14 and then call their harried accountant to ask for a six-month extension. Five months and umpteen days from now, they still will not be ready. They can't be bothered doing their taxes, as they are busy getting their Christmas cards in the mail. These are the same people who stayed up all night in college to study for a test, never pay a bill on time and are always late. They are living la vida loca, and sitting down to do taxes is not their idea of a good time. I suspect they will live 10 years longer than the rest of us.
■ The Eco-Filers — Ah, these peeps scan their W-2s into their smartphones and file electronically. They have an app on their phone that tracks their receipts, they pay all their bills online and they back up their computers religiously. They compost and recycle with a vengeance. In my next life, I'm coming back as one of these people. I really am.
In the meantime, I'm waiting for my accountant to call back.