Durham County

Neil Offen column: April 15 is coming, a very taxing time

Like many of you, I have outsourced my income tax preparation to someone who actually understands how to add lines 23 through 35 and then find the smaller of lines 44 through 68 while entering the amount from 46 divided by the credit from line 73.

Unlike me, my tax preparer knows all about capital gains (or losses), S corporations, ordinary dividends, not-so-ordinary dividends, the domestic production activities deduction (Yes! It’s right there on Line 35, but only if you’ve attached Form 8917), and even whether Line 79 is more than Line 68, but only in months that have an R.

But, unfortunately, my tax preparer is not in charge of gathering all the information for my tax return. That’s my job.

He doesn’t know where I probably or possibly or might have or could have carefully stored all my tax stuff that I have to give him before he can figure out if I qualify for the advance premium tax payment credit or the 50-percent off an item of equal or lesser value if I choose the nontaxable combat pay election.

If I want to get the Depreciation and Amortization deduction (Form 4562), I would have to show him all the bills I have for when we depreciated and amortizated the house last fall. If I want to deduct Expenses for Business Use of Your Home (Form 8829), I would have to provide all the bills I paid for the work done on your house, too.

To qualify for the Profit or Loss From Business deduction (Schedule C), I have to prove that I already filed Schedule A and Schedule B, even though I’m pretty sure I didn’t have them on my schedule.

Meanwhile, the tax deadline is quickly approaching, and my tax preparer is already explaining to me why if Line 8 is more than zero I’ll still owe a significant amount of money even if I prefer Line 7. So, for the last several weeks, I have been searching in the obvious places — the desk, the filing cabinet, the bread bin, next to the carburetor — for a number of extremely important tax documents that he says he needs, including:

The W-2 forms, which I believe I had filed with the WD-40 forms that came with the lawn mower. It’s also possible I may have thrown them out when they arrived in the mail, thinking they were solicitations for satellite TV packages (“4,726 Channels — Only 43 cents for the first 12 months!”).

All the 1099 forms, which had been reduced from 12.99 and would have come with free shipping, too. (As long as I spent more than $65 and attached Form 1116.)

My carefully annotated list of medical expenses, which included doctor bills, dental bills, pharmacy bills and insurance premium bills, minus my deductible but divided by my co-pay multiplied by my medical mileage co-efficient. Unless that number is less than zero or higher than my tax preparer’s fee.

And last year’s tax forms. I’m sure I can find them, unless they were amortizated last fall.

Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com. Past columns can be found at www.theneiloffencolumn.wordpress.com.