How To Avoid Getting Burned By Your Own Tax Return

By: Wayne M. Davies

I did it. I finally did it.

Last weekend, while the rest of Fort Wayne celebrated the
long-awaited onset of springtime temperatures, I stayed
inside and did something I've never done before.

I burned my first CD.

Yep, I joined the Pepsi generation and got me a real CD-RW
drive. And I actually copied a music CD onto a blank CD (my
wife's favorite Eric Clapton CD -- so now she's got one for
home and one for the van; guess I better burn another one so
she can listen to it at work, too.)

But it wasn't easy, let me tell ya!

If fact, I didn't think it would ever happen.

Why? Because when it comes to computers, I ain't the most
proficient guy in the world. I know how to use my accounting
and tax software, and I can peck away at a word processor
with the best of them, but hardware? I'm clueless, man,
absolutely clueless.

To me, RAM is an animal, the mascot for a pro football team
that used to play in L.A. and then moved to St. Louis.

But my wife and kids have been pestering me for months to
get a CD-RW so we can make our own music CD's. So last week
I finally gave in and ventured out to my local discount
electronics store.

And there they were, lined up on the shelf, all 28 different

I picked up one of the boxes and looked at the "specs". The
first label that caught my eye was called "Disc Formats":
CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM (mode 1 and mode 2), CD-ROM XA (mode2,
form 1 and form2), CD-DA, Bootable CD, Photo CD (single and
multi-sessions), Video CD, CD-Extra, Mixed mode CD, CD-text.

I suddenly felt the beginnings of a headache.

I know enough about hardware to know that you've got to make
sure a new piece of hardware is compatible with your
existing hardware.

Ah, yes, the "interface", gotta make sure that's right!

So I looked at the box where is said "E-IDE/ATAPI".

Now my stomach didn't feel so good either.

Finally, I turned the box over and found what I was looking
for, "System Requirements": IBM PC Pentium 200MHz or higher;
64MB DRAM, 1 GB for image recording, 150MB free HD space for
installing writing software.

I no longer had a headache. I had a migraine.

Enough was enough. I left the store and came home empty-
handed. I was in over my head, and it was time to admit it.

While driving home I suddenly realized something.

What I just experienced is exactly what most people
experience as they sit down to prepare their tax return each
year. All those forms, schedules and worksheets, each with
their own set of unique codes and convoluted calculations.

Forms, forms and more forms. They might as well be written
in Greek.

For some people, mostly folks with "regular" day jobs and
simple W2's, doing your own tax return can be a relatively
painless process (particularly if you don't itemize
deductions and have no investment income).

And with the proliferation of user-friendly tax preparation
software programs, I'm sure millions of returns are filed by
do-it-yourself-er's without a hitch.

But if you're self-employed or own your own business, and
you're new to the world of taxes, well, I've got news for
you -- be prepared to go through exactly what I went through
at Best Buy -- lots of pain, agony and frustration.

And be ready to "give up" and do what I eventually did --
call a professional.

For me, that meant giving my friend George a call. George is
a client who also happens to be a "computer guy" with all
the latest gizmos and gadgets known to mankind.

George was very happy to help me out. He told me exactly
what kind of CD drive to get, and then he came over to the
house and installed the thing in 15 minutes! I couldn't
believe it! Then he installed some software, spent 10
minutes showing me how to use it, and the next thing I know,
I'm burning a CD like I've been doing it all my life.

If you are a small business owner or self-employed person
and you're trying to prepare you own return this year, how's
it going?

Do you think you did OK? Or are you getting by on trial and
error with a dose of prayer mixed in ("Please, God, please
don't let me get audited!")

Maybe it's time you did what I did.

By George, call a professional.

If you're in over your head, admit itArticle Submission, and get some help.
Visit your local tax professional today!


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