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Since Sundays are “free” days and I don’t need to follow the A-Z Challenge structure, I’m going to ramble off into “complaining about taxes” mode. In today’s case it wasn’t the taxes themselves that were nearly driving me to drink, but the ridiculousness of the hoops I needed to jump through in order to figure them.

(I should explain that I was doing my husband-who-lives-across-town’s taxes today, not my own. Had they been my own, I simply would have said some version of “screw this!” and put them away until Tuesday. However, since they were his, and I had planned on having them finished a couple of weeks ago and am tired of listening to him complain about priorities, I needed to get them done.)

Anyhow, we had each received a 1099-C a while ago from a creditor, explaining that they had decided to cancel an outstanding credit card debt, and that they had notified the IRS of our increased taxable income for 2013. Now I don’t know about you, dear reader, but on my retirement/Social Security income, adding an extra $21,000+ on which we hadn’t had taxes withheld was like dropping a huge bombshell on my finances. And we had agreed that this one was his responsibility, as I’m paying on student loans (sigh!) So I started researching the whole process, heart in my throat, and discovered an interesting fact in the fine print that is the instructions for IRS Form 1040: If you were insolvent (in other words, owed more than you owned) at the time of the discharge of the debt, you didn’t have to claim it as taxable income. This was great news. The not-so-great news was the Mongolian cluster f*ck I had to navigate through to accomplish this. (I started with my husband’s taxes because he would have apoplexy if his return were late. I don’t even care on mine any more.)

First there was the “income” section. It all made sense until I got the part where they suggested that less or more might be due, depending on whether your Social Security Benefits were taxed. So I had to complete the Social Security Benefits Worksheet. It took me at least 45 minutes to determine that $32.00 of his Social Security income was not taxable. Whoopy!

Then there was Form 982: Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness. In order to fill that one out, you need to use the Insolvency Worksheet, located in another section of the tax booklet online. (Of course, before that you need to STUDY the instruction booklet, read all the possible scenarios, and realize that yours is different from all the examples.) So I successfully navigated through the forms and completed the rough draft of his Federal return.

This afternoon I tackled the California return, thinking I could just plug in the numbers from the Federal form and be good to go. WRONG-O! I entered the numbers and started scrolling through the instruction booklet on line. When I was ready to figure the tax owed, I discovered through trial and error that the online instruction booklet did not have the tax tables on it. I could use the table that accompanies the booklet for the Tax Schedules, but I have heard over the years that the taxes are higher if you figure them with Tax Schedules instead of from the Tax Tables.

I tried the “find forms and publications” area repeatedly, with no success. I finally realized that the only recourse I had was to pick up a complete instruction booklet, which means tomorrow I must drive across town to the IRS offices to get a copy of the entire instruction document, as our library (the only other source listed) is closed on Monday.

The “renters’ income tax credit form” was also nearly impossible to find…no, I faked it. It WAS impossible to find. But I have now “guesstimated” his tax forms, finding he’s getting a refund from one and has to pay less than he was hoping for on the other one. Tomorrow afternoon I will complete them after my visit to the IRS, and hopefully get started on my own.

It is April 13, 2014. Are your taxes filed yet?