Ask the Readers: Do You Look Forward to Tax Time? (Your Chance to win $20!)

By Linsey Knerl on 19 January 2010 (Updated 26 January 2010) 145 comments
Photo: Alan Cleaver

***Congrats to our winners!***

  • Comment #117 - Love it! Submitted by Karen on January 20, 2010 - 12:54. I'm a CPA, so tax time is my time to shine! I love seeing clients and helping them get their returns completed. It's also when I work six days a week so I can relax and work 4 days a week the rest of the year ;-)

Taxes.

Depending on who you are, they can mean very different things. For some, filing taxes means a big refund will soon end up directly deposited in your checking account. For others, it means you'll be catching up on self-employment taxes and looking forward to a big bill. Most of us lie somewhere in the middle, looking forward to breaking even or perhaps getting a modest return that we can use for paying down debt or putting away for a rainy day.

What are your thoughts on tax time? Do you dread it? Anxiously await it? We'd love to hear your thoughts, fears, and plans for getting some of your own hard-earned cash back. (We encourage you to link to your own blog posts if you've covered a similar topic on your own site.) Let us know your stories here in our comment thread or on Twitter, and you'll be entered to win one of two $20 Amazon giveaways. (Yes, that's right! We've doubled our prize money!) Dozens of readers have already won. You could be next!

Win a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate

We're doing two giveaways — one for random comments, and another one for a random tweets.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Tweet your answer. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Friday, January 22nd at 11:59 am CST. Winners will be announced after January 22nd on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter both drawings — once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)

Good luck!

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Guest's picture
Meg

I'm not a fan of completing the return, but the check is nice!

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Sarah G

I'm lucky - I've worked one job only for a few years now, so my returns are quick and simple to file...and I've also always had a pretty sizable (to me) return. That makes me pretty happy when tax time rolls around!

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rmyr

Without being too political, I hate the idea of giving our money to the government. There are some programs that I feel more or less comfortable funding but not most. That's the biggest reason I hate taxes and tax season.

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Kevin Drum

I'm looking forward to it because this will be my first time itemizing my deductions (mortgage interest, assorted tax deductions, HSA deduction--the works). I feel so grown up.

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Nicholas

I am not a fan of the tax time... at least when the taxes are being completed. However, when that check comes in the mail then I quickly change my mind on taxes.

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Heather

I like geeky financial stuff. Every time I do it, I get a real sense of accomplishment -- maybe because everyone else hates it? I don't know... I'm well-organized, which certainly helps.

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jan

Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. Dread it. Did my taxes myself the last 2 years. Cringe. This year paying someone again since we did well in a certain stock and made too much $ again to qualify for a refund.

I will be curious how many will get way less of a refund than anticipated with that little "tax credit" on your paycheck last year. I increased my holdback when that happened to try and offset some of it.

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Jennifer

Yes! I'm expecting a big refund check this year even though I adjusted my withholding earlier this year. I plan to throw my refund at my student loan debt.

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Michael

I am not a fan of doing them. My wife likes it though, so she does it, we check it together, then we wait for the refund.

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Lauren

I dread taxes like the plague. I hate the paperwork aspect of it - collecting and sorting receipts, etc. And it's been a while since I've gotten a refund, so that's not a help, either. I just got married this past year, so my husband and I are going to go to a CPA together for the first time. It could be a good tax year. :D

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ryan

absolutely, all i do is print my spreadsheets for the accountant, and wait for my direct deposit.

nice little kick to the year.

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Jill

Usually tax time is okay with a modest return. But this year is awesome with all the new tax write offs I have I will be getting a huge refund and I can't wait to file. All the trouble with economy has brought about some nice rewards at tax time. I get to cash in the $8,000 incentive for buying a house, write off my interest on the home loan, write off the taxes paid for a new car purchase, claim a new dependent born this year, deduct child care bills, and much more.

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Traci

My taxes are easy and provide a time each year to evaluate my economic landscape. Did I give as much as I planned to? How much money came my way? Did I anticipate how much Uncle Sam wanted accurately? It's a fun little game I play each year.

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MDale2

I may get a small refund this year, but I still don't care for dragging out all the paperwork and spending a couple hours verifying all the figures in Turbotax. So nah, not looking forward to them.

Guest's picture

I don't mind it at all. We are paying down debt so this year the money goes right into that, and should help to make a dent in it. The only thing that's a pain is we live in one state, my husband works in a neighboring state, and we own a house in another state across the country, so I have to fill out 3 state returns. :(

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Lizabeth

I love tax time! And I've never even gotten a big refund. I love it because I like the challenge of getting as much money back as possible (or at least lowering the amount I'll owe) and because I like getting all my finances organized and seeing how much money I've made over the past year.

I always use a program like TurboTax. It makes taxes really easy and updates the balance of your refund as you input information.

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Jonathan

I love completing our return simply because it means I get an excuse to look at the family balence sheet and then play aorund with numbers. As I said, I'm a dork.

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Kathy

It is a good chance to get all of our documents organized for the year, but I dread writing that check when things don't come out in our favor!

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Aryn

Call me crazy, but I like filing my taxes. I like completing the online questionnaires. I also like seeing how close I come to getting it right on the money. I'm not looking for a big refund (although this year I'll have) and I'm not looking to owe.

And for Jan, you don't "qualify" for a refund. It's YOUR money to begin with. Getting a refund means you overpaid your taxes and the government is returning the overage. If you don't get a refund, that means you didn't give the government a tax-free loan.

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Robert

I love tax time. I usually get a nice refund and this year I'll be getting a heck of a refund due to my student loan interest and tuition counting toward my return.

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Amy

While it's slightly different here in Canada, I do enjoy completely my taxes. Doesn't really matter if I get a return or not (why lend to the gov't for free?), it's just nice to tick this off my yearly to-do list!

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Christy

I can't wait to do my taxes and get my refund check!

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Sushi

I haven't had enough tax experience to deal with all the deductions, but as long as everything comes in on time, I'm fine with taxes. Number crunching is right up my alley.

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PH

Yes, I look forward to tax season because other than taxes, it's a chance for me to get organized. The benefits are mostly psychological as I un-clutter my life and re-evaluate my financial status.

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Selene M.

I do not look forward to doing taxes at all. I know we'll have to pay, and that adds to the stress. I wait until the last week to file so we can hang on to our money as long as possible.

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Sarah

I definitely look forward to tax time. It's an easy way to put a large lump-sum into savings. I know it's not the wisest move, but knowing I have a refund coming is less painful than having to give up the money already lining my pockets.

Guest's picture

I look forward to tax time, because while I don't get a lot of money back I do get some back. Right now my taxes are fairly straight forward, so it takes minimal effort to process my returns. I give myself a small reward and thre rest goes to savings. I like to see the little boost in my account.

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Ruth

No matter what we do, my husband and I never get a refund on our taxes. We always plan to pay a pretty hefty chunk of change, and we don't like it one bit!

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gt0163c

I'm not a huge fan of tax time.
I get a refund and that's nice, but pulling all the information together and going through the process is just not enjoyable for me, even with TurboTax.

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lostAnnfound

I don't mind it so much. I'm self-employed, so for the past few years we have our taxes done by an accountant. We usually break even, a little refund or payment due. It does give us the opportunity to look at the big financial picture.

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Chris

It really is easy to get caught up in the idea of a big refund. As I have gotten older, it has become more clear that it is best to get almost no refund. That means that your taxes are taken out properly. You have had more of your own earnings all year to invest etc. instead of the government holding on to them. It's a realization that does not cause excitement, but I think it's important.

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Will

I get to buy some new software every year...it always works fine...I love how what in the stone age took me a day, now takes me an hour.
This year especially, I am enthused, because I will get back an additional 4 grand in solar energy tax credits.

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T

This will be our first tax return as a married couple with a home (we've been married 6+ years, but didn't buy a house until late 2008, which meant we didn't quite make the cut to itemize). I'm curious about how things will turn out this year. Since my husband was laid off the week before Christmas (nice timing, huh?) we can definitely use a little extra money. This will also (fingers crossed, anyway) be the first time since we got married that we get money back instead of paying.

Guest's picture

I find the process easy and simple (w/ turbotax). I always file in early February and then revise my withholding to keep my refunds smallish.

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Min

I usually end up with a decent return, so I enjoy it, even if it meant that I gave the govt an interest free loan.

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eric

I sorta do. I have a taxman who knows all the loopholes for my industry. He plays around with numbers and usually gets me money -- enough to cover his fee!

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Mary

I actually kind of dig tax time. I did my own taxes last year, and this year, I got married and we bought a house, so the government owes us a lot of money. I want to hurry up and get my return filed so I can get my hands on it!

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Crista

Yes, we certainly do. We get back a nice return and usually use it to pay down/off debts and take care of incidental expenses throughout the year that are not included in the budget. This year, we are using the tax refund check to move.

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Darice

I USED to LOOOOVE it when I had the EZ form to fill out. Now that I have a house I have to start looking into the house tax rules and how to work the appraisal process... argh.

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Charles

I consider it a yearly math problem that I get to solve and find new ways to keep more of my taxes. I'm probably one of those rare folks looking for the latest tax rules right after Thanksgiving to see what I can do before the end of the year to keep more.

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E.K.

Dreading doing our taxes this year as we filed bankruptcy in 2009. Not sure how bankruptcy will affect the return and I don't want to spend time finding out. Usually I use TaxAct, this year I may have someone else do them. I just want it done.

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Juan

I always have additional money withheld from my paycheck, so I look forward to the return each year!

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Emily

I've gotten pretty used to filing and it's not that difficult, but I always end up getting questions from relatives, and half of them expect me to do their taxes for them. That can be a little frustrating. I'm not looking forward to this year's because I'll have to do mine early since I'll be on vacation over tax day. I guess that's motivation to not procrastinate!

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Jill S

I do enjoy tax season. We always get a big return and I like to do as much as I can to make sure that happens. The secret is to stay as organized as possible during the year.

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Linden

I have a database that I use every night before going to bed, where I itemize eveerything I have spent that day---down to the 50 cents for a newspaper. At the same time, I note taxable items and the database gives me a number to put on the receipt. I have an envelope for every month of the year, so when tax time comes it is very easy for me to do the taxes. Everything is already tallied and coded.

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Kat

Since I'm young, single, and don't own a house or have a lot of investments, I don't mind tax time. And since I have money withheld during the year, I always get a refund. It's kind of nice to have a small influx of money in the spring. :)

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DivaJean

Not looking to it as much as last year-- Last year, my returns were ridiculously high since I had all the kids adoptions finalized and got to refile some stuff from 2008 to get that tax money back. Thank heaven they were since it gave me a feeling of security when my department was let go- and I was jobless for 3 months! Ultimately, the money was used for siding and to keep a decent emergency fund on hand.

This year, I have some unemployment that was not taxed at the time it was received- so I may owe.

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Kathryn

I used to look forward to it, but over the years, my taxes have gotten considerably more complicated, and now I dread it! I've never really understood looking fwd to a big refund. From my perspective, if the refund is big, I've done something wrong, because that money could have been in the bank earning interest all along! I try to break even or owe a bit.

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Debra

I used to have lots of taxes taken out of my paycheck. Then I read somewhere that this is a bad idea: it's like giving the government a free loan. So I chewed on that tidbit of information and decided I could better invest my money elsewhere so it was working FOR ME during that time.

Having been unemployed since April, having rented out one of the bedrooms to our house, having converted a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA (I didn't know at the time that if I'd waited until 2010 I could defer the taxes on that! I'm still cursing my financial advisor for that one!), and a few other things, I know I'm going to owe money. I'm not sure how much, and I'm still unemployed, so I'm *really* not looking forward to it this year!

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Guest

I don't mind doing my taxes. I worked for a lawyer that did taxes so learned to do ours. I file online, so very easy. Usually get a refund, which is great.

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Amber

Having to gather all the paperwork, sit down and actually think about all the W-2s and things... it's mostly just a pain in the butt for me. I always owe a little bit of money now that I'm working full-time.

Actually, I just got married. Maybe I can get my husband to take care of this chore now...

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Amy K.

Not so much the process, as the fact I can check it off my list. I'm getting antsy right now, waiting for all the paperwork to trickle in. Once everything arrives we can figure out not only how much we owe, but how harvested losses from last year carry forward, and how much we can put in a Roth IRA (we were right at the income limit last year, and I think again this year). I like having all my ducks in a row, and not knowing irks me. Looking forward to tax time.

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SolCat

I've always done my own taxes if the year was normal. When I moved or something more complicated, I'd go to Jackson-Hewitt. I like doing my own return; I know what's going on a little better. The forms are not as confusing as most people seems to think they are, you just have to set aside a block of time so you don't feel rushed and read the booklet that comes with the forms.

Having said all that, I'm still nervous at tax time and this usually manifests as procrastination - I don't think I've ever mailed my taxes before April 10th, even though I'm always due a return.

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Kim

I am extremely organized - I can tell you exactly where any object is in my house. I also love Codes (I like bankruptcy too) - it's like unlocking a puzzle, and the prize (if you did it right) is a refund! Yes I know refund means you paid too much but we have newly begun paying student loans & have had unpredictable incomes, so EITC always kicks in. Next year with both of us working full time, it might become a sad time!

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Laure

I have all kinds of complications - multiple jobs, then self-employed, rental real estate - and none of the deductions - still renting an apt...frustrating!!!

Guest's picture

Part of good financial plan is being organized and ready for tax time. For people who start looking at their taxes after the year is over, you may be in for a rude awakening! Plus, it's never a good idea to give the IRS a interest free loan for the year, check your allowances throughout the year. The IRS has a good witholding calculator on their website!

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tt

No way! Who does? The only thing worse than having to pay taxes is having to tabulate them (or paying someone $$$ to do it for you)!

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V

I'm usually pretty organized with my taxes so that is not a problem. Every year, however, for the past 7 years I work a second job nights and weekends at a local financial office helping them process tax returns for their clients. The positive side is the extra income, the fact that they will do our taxes for free (married with full time jobs, 2 small side businesses and a mortgage so they take a bit of time) and they are always there for any tax advice I need. The negative is that it is a long two months of work in addition to my full time job and by the end I am pretty exhausted!

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Tessa

I don't really mind doing the taxes. Well, except for the time I lived in NYC and Michigan-- if I was still a New York resident I would definitely pay someone to do my taxes. It is nice to get a refund back that allows me to pay a chunk of my student loans.

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connie

3 personal returns, 2 businesses, one rental property. Gets a little tiresome. I have an accountant that looks over my work and he usually comes up with one or two things to do differently. I am one of those lucky people that get audited every couple of years. They haven't found anything yet but they keep trying.

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denise

Oh no, not that nasty 3 letter word. The stress and the emphasis on how disorganized and what a horrible record keeper I am. I did take accounting in school but have never seemed to apply what I learned.

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Guest

I think I have a similar response to other people here. When I first think of taxes, my stomach clenches up and I think "oh noooooo" and feel very put-out and whiny. But then I remind myself I may get some money back, and my gut unclenches and I calm down. But this chronology of emotions takes place every single time I remember it's tax time. I can go through it several times a day. It's an emotional roller coaster, really.

Guest's picture

I don't mind tax time, I have seven kids...ka-ching!

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C_2

Tax time is always another chance to learn something new! But it still sucks :P.

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Kristy

I never know if I'm going to owe money or get a refund, so I have a bit of ambivalence toward filing. The process of filling out the return isn't a big deal, because our finances are pretty straightforward.

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Joe Enos

I actually have a bachelor's degree in accounting, but chose to go in a different path (software development). So every tax season, it's just kind of fun to think about this stuff again - I was always interested in money, and each year, doing taxes refreshes my memory about things like amortization, capital gains, and other fun things.

I wouldn't want to do this for a living, but every year it's kind of fun to take a day and be an accountant again.

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Kelli

Thankfully, TurboTax, etc. have made doing taxes a LOT easier than back in the day when you had to sit down with a pencil, eraser, and piles of long, boring schedules and forms and such. I'm always glad when I'm done and when I receive the refund.

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Jennifer Lissette

i do look forward to tax season. we've set up our taxes so that we get a nice, healthy return.

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L. Michelle

Not too good or bad . . . we try to balance our taxes so the return is small (we'd rather have our money earning interest during the year), but even the small amount we get back is nice. It is there to put toward a vacation or this year, for example, to pay for our daughter's driver education (yikes) that will cost several hundred.

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Guest

We have them done by an accountant so it's not too painful. we pay estimated taxes quarterly and as long as we have money in the bank to pay what we still owe or we get money back I'm happy.

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Guest

I dislike the tax filing process but like it when I get a refund check.

Guest's picture

Don't really like doing taxes - I have alwys done my own, as I live modestly - but I was late for last year, after filing an extension - & finally did it via efile & got a $1200 refund which will apply to our past tax debt! Efiling was very easy & quick - I did my taxes in @ one hr. Let's see if I get audited!
Hubby insisted we take ours to a tax person one year - & we paid $200+ & didn't get as many deductions as I can get myself! (I did pay $60 for late efiling - but the 2009 taxes can be efiled for the Fed gratis...) Now I know that efiling is so EZ, I won't dread taxes quite as much this year! P.S. I don't mind paying my taxes becaz SOMEONE has to pay for the upkeep of the country! We don't usually pave our own roads or build our own bridges, do we?

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Jeanne

But I actually get a strange thrill out of doing my taxes. I wish my W-2s would hurry up and get here--so I could file and get that nice refund check. I don't think I'd enjoy it as much if I had to pay taxes, though...

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saudade

I loved it as a single college student -- simple to file and I always got a refund check. But as a married with a two person income that is just a little bit above subsistence, who is trying to put a little bit away here and there in her retirement, it's a giant pain to file and an even greater inconvenience to have to pay!

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Vickie

I dread getting all my paperwork together and taking everything to have someone do my taxes, but enjoy the return. This year money going to pay down debt.

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Guest

I do think that the way TurboTax shows a constant counter at the top of what you owe so you can watch it go down (or up) as you go through the process is genuis.

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Trang

Nope, of course not. It just means more work for me. :P

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Emily

I typically break even, however, I hate the gathering of papers and filling out forms.

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Ann Marie

I don't look forward to filing my taxes because almost every year, I miscalculate the amount I should be paying in taxes. I'm a student with a taxable fellowship, but taxes aren't taken out, so I pay estimated taxes. I try to estimate how much I need to pay in taxes every year, but because I get paid in uneven chunks and because the school fiscal year runs July-June, sometimes my January-December pay is higher or lower than I estimate. I nearly always end up owing taxes, which is painful, since I pay large sums of money every 3 months in estimated taxes. Somehow it's more painful when you have to write that check than when it comes out of your paycheck and you never see it in the first place.

I'll be so happy when I graduate and get a job with regular, steady pay :)

Guest's picture
Jason Weigand

I look forward to tax time every year. Sometime after Halloween I start to get excited. In fact I think I get more excited about doing my taxes then I do about getting presents for Christmas. I can't wait to pull out all of my receipts and process everything to find out if I can get enough deductions to outweigh the standard deduction. That doesn't happen often but when it does I am stoked. This process also helps me know how much money I spent over the year and get a chance to see how much money I was able to give away (donations). It helps me think about how thankful that I am to hae been able to give that much money. I always wish I could be the person who can just write a check for a couple thousand dollars to some charity or something, which is something I don't even come close to being able to do right now. But all those smaller donations do add up during the year and I get pretty excited see how much I was able to give away. I also like doing my taxes because more often than not I get a tax refund. When that happens I feel like I won the lottery. All the more reasons to get excited.

Guest's picture
CM

I do it because it has to be done, but I neither dread nor look forward to it. I usually owe just a little or sometimes break even. I don't understand how some people get huge checks and spend like it's free money. It's YOUR MONEY, people, spend wisely.

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laurie

Tax time for us is neither here nor there, but rather another chore to take care of, like cleaning the bathroom or hand washing the sweaters. Definately not something we look forward to, but it feels so good when it's done! We usually break about even.

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Rita

I usually split whatever dough comes in three ways...1/3 to a family wish list item (or saving for big ticket need), 1/3 to saving, and 1/3 to debt.

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Kaylea

I'm glad to see there's someone besides me out there who enjoys doing them -- I really find it satisfying to fill in all the little boxes! I definitely like to see how all my plans have worked out, in a structured final snapshot format. I think of it all like a video game -- tax time means I've beaten another level, and it's time to see my results. Did I get a new high score? Did I finish all the quests and hit all the bonuses? Do my results give me any hints about strategy for the next level?

Maybe describing money matters so lightly is heretical on a finance blog, but life is an awfully long game to play if you're not having fun...

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Laura

Actually DOING our taxes is incredibly tedious, but it's nice to get them done early every year. Can't argue with a refund check!

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Gina

I absolutely HATE tax time. I hate preparing the taxes because it is SO time consuming (even with having everything organized throughout the year!), and or course I hate that I almost always have to pay slightly more than anticipated.

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Jerry Siegel

It's a time to reflect on the financial results for the past year and plan for the new one.
I like the puzzle-solving aspect of preparing the return, and volunteer with AARP Tax-Aide to help out those who are overwhelmed by the complexity.
I just hate writing a check when I know much of the money will end up in the pork barrel!

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kookie

I used to ... until this year ... when my tax filing involves two states, a relocation, house selling and buying, stock options craziness and lots of loans. All this and my document storage/organization is not up to the standards I set for myself over the years.
I guess I will have to resort to asking for help filing this years taxes.

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Todd

Personally, I like not having it over my head anymore. I like knowing that I've got a handle on how things were supposed to go over the year in terms of quarterly tax payments. However, some of the banks and workplaces I deal with delay sending me information. For example, one of my banks isn't sending out 1099s until February, and if last year is any indication, I won't be getting my w-2 from the university until around the same time. I've got most of my records in order, but until I get the official ones, I can't really do much. I'd much prefer being able to finish early, rather than later.

On the plus side, I've finished up a degree, paid off a student loan, and this is the last year I'll be filing for having worked in 2 states... I hope.

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Debbie M

I like it okay--it really doesn't matter whether I like it, so I don't generally think in those terms.

I get a paper form. And then as each form arrives, I pencil in the amount on the relevant line, or if I will have to add numbers from several forms, then I pencil it in nearby. That way I don't have to spend several hours on it all at once.

I never know if I'm getting a refund or paying more, so wondering about that helps keep me motivated.

I'm very glad I can do them myself and don't have to pay someone who may or may not be doing a thorough job.

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Jennifer E

It's kind of interesting doing my own taxes, but it's definitely not fun having to pay.

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Therese

Well, I like if we get a refund, but I hate collecting everything together and hoping we don't forget anything.

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Guest

It depends on whether I have to pay more taxes or I get a refund. This year I anticipate some kind of refund, so they'll be completed by February.

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Laura

I am always eager to do taxes. A combination of getting money back and the feeling of accomplishment in settling accounts for the old year.

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Christine

It seems dreadful but then when the time comes it feels great to get it over with.

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nancy

I enjoy tax time! Since I started using tax prep. software, I've found tax prep to be fast and easy. We have been getting a refund the past few years, so I look forward to that.

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KIm

I used to enjoy getting all my financial information together and doing my own taxes because it really let me see where I stood (and the refund I usually got helped). Then my husband and I both started our own businesses and things got complicated, much fun getting the information together and having to wait to see whether we get money back or have to pay. It's also not as easy to recognize tax-reducing strategies for next year without doing the return myself and seeing all the possible deductions.

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Eric Starker

Taxes are a pain to do, but because I don't make a ton of money, I usually get a nice bit of cash as a refund. So I look forward to that!

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Susanne

We look forward to our tax refund. We've gone to a CPA the last 10 years and it's made a huge difference in the refund we receive. We intentionally have more taken out than we need to, and we understand the financial arguments against that, but it really works like a savings account for us. We would not save that amount of money on our own right now. One day, that will change and we'll adjust our deductions accordingly. But, right now it works for us and I can't wait to get that check!

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Maranda

I normally despise it. I always have to itemize, as I have a home office, but this year, I sort of look forward to it because I can take more credits. We adopted a little boy, so that would make another dependent and the adoption credit. Look forward to hopefully paying off some debt, at least a little.:-)