March 4th, 2008

Bruce, Caroline

Taxes and Social Security and ... No Money? Oh My!!!

Okay, so I'm a total slacker this year. For the past couple of years I've had my taxes completely done and my refund in hand by mid February. Here it is March, and I'm just starting the filing process right now. As always, I am continuing to use Tax Act Online to prepare and electronically file. They've been great, and $15 is incredibly reasonable for the service and for the filing fee. I've enjoyed the freedom of filing each year independently, and the refund that I've gotten back has never been a source of complaint for me either.

Unfortunately, this year is a bit different. This year I get to send even more money to the government. Say what? What happened to my nice refund check? So, after I finish the filing process, I get to give them more of what they want.

Then there's the Social Security Administration. You really gotta love that branch of government, but sometimes I absolutely love to hate them. As part of the tax preparation process, I need to include information from a form 1099. This form, as with all of their documentation, is sent in print. Print is wonderful, amazing, and completely useless to someone who can't see it. This is 2008, almost the end of the first decade of the 21st century. So, explain to me exactly why it is that they still insist on using inaccessible means of communication? If I spoke Spanish I'd be accommodated by receiving my letters and things in Spanish. So, here's a bit of irony for you. I went up to the Social Security Administration web site a few minutes ago. I wanted to see if, by some chance, I could possibly access some of my information electronically. Hey, I finally got online banking a month ago, why not accessible Social Security too, right? Well ... Sort of, but not quite. I found the place where you're supposed to be able to apply for a password that will allow access to the online content and filled out the form. At the end of the form process, I was very politely thanked and informed that my temporary password would be sent to me via regular mail. Yep, yet another inaccessible document. This, from the same web site that has gone (in my opinion anyway), almost too far in terms of web site accessibility. Yes, you did read that right. They really tried, (and it's very evident) to make the forms easy to work with if you're using a screen-reader. The problem is, it's almost too much information. When I'm filling out a form, I like to hear the question read to me once, followed by the answers. On this site, the question is read, and then before each answer choice, the question is heard yet again. So, for a simple yes/no question, I have to listen to the question three times just to get to my answer. It's one of those things though where you almost hate to complain because it's so obvious that accessibility was a priority when putting this site together. There's just got to be some kind of middle ground though.

So, after applying for my inaccessible temporary password, I filled out another form to request that a new 1099 be mailed to me because my current one got damaged ... (don't ask, okay?) This went well, and they say I should have the new document by March 14th. This gives me plenty of time to complete my taxes and file. This will also give the IRS plenty of time to take my money away from me. SMILE!

So, that's my rant for the day. The good news after all that, is that I actually do have the money this month to pay the government, so it'll all work out, and I don't have to sit here freaking out about where the money's going to come from. Happy tax season everyone!
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