Okay, so I've got all my tax bits 'n pieces spread out all over the office now. And I realize that I don't have a 1040 packet. Of course I don't - I haven't done my own taxes in two years...the IRS figures I don't need a packet. What an environmentally-friendly policy...except that this year I DO need a packet.
Do I venture out to the nearest library and get one? Do I go online and print off the forms? Or...
I ponder advice from some friends that worked at H&R Block. They both suggested using Block's online tax program. I have resisted using this, or Turbo Tax, or any of the other 'automated' methods, because I don't like the Q&A interface. I'm used to starting at the 1040 form, then taking tangents off into each supporting form, then coming back. The Q&A interface makes me wonder what decisions the program is making for me behind-the-scenes. Can I change my answer, if I don't like the outcome? If I do it manually (paper 'n pencil), I know the answer is always "yes".
However, I decide to venture forth into the 20th century. Change is good. Right? RIGHT?!?!?
I spend 30 minutes trying to figure out if I am a 'returning client' (since I did my taxes at a Block office last year) or if I am a 'new client'. If I am 'returning', I am supposed to have a username and password. I don't. I find a cryptic note in my 2003 tax packet with a password, but no username. I try, in vain, to make this work. I guess frantically at what email address I may have given a whole year ago. I give up and click 'new user'.
This turns out to be okay, since I can tell the program who I am and have it import my info from last year. This is cool! Who wants to enter all their address, employment, etc. information. Yuk. I speed through these screens.
Just when I start to wonder if I should 'Save' (I've been a Microsoft user too long to go for more than 15 minutes without saving my work)...my Next button quits working. I'm on the Dependent screen and I clicked 'Yes'. Then 'Next'. No 'next' screen comes up...still the Dependent screen. Okay, I can't believe that Goofy Junior is here either, but c'mon. He's here to stay and I want a tax deduction for him, dammit. I "Save & Close" then sign back in. I'm back at the first screen. SHIT!
Maybe I need to think about an extension. They give you 3 months to procrastinate for free, ya know. Groan.
After prompting me to import my info again, it asks me whether I want to continue where I left off. Ah! No data lost. It lets me past the Dependent screen this time. Okay, time for that nap now...