My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

IRS's convenience trumps Constitution, I guess

Up until 4:00 and 5:00 fussing around with e-file over the weekend.

Still not done. Have to buy printer ink after all, print the stuffpit forms, and get them in to a post office by Wednesday evening, so I can get the postmark and claim to be filing on time. (The IRS is kind enough to give overseas taxpayers a two month extension, if you remind them about it in your filing.)

Not that the IRS would penalize me. 15% or 25% of zero is still zero. I'm not making enough to pay taxes over there. Barely making enough to pay rent in a middle-class district, barely making enough to pay any taxes to Japan. But it's better to keep the IRS happy, right?

The IRS does not maintain a way to report my taxes over the Internet. All the hoopla over "e-file", but it's all 3rd-party. (And why should I trust those 3rd parties more than the government?)

And  All the hoopla about "free", but the 3rd-party tax "enablers" are given all the opportunities they could want to try to convince the average taxpayer to spend "only" $15 or $25 to get some set of features they should not have to buy. (Yeah, that's at least a day's worth of food for my family. I suppose I shouldn't be living in a middle class district, but it costs too much to move in Japan.)

Taxpayer. Taxplayer. Bah. Humbug.

A walk through the mall is free. But, then, nobody is holding a gun to my head and threatening me with a theoretical prison sentence if I don't take my obligatory yearly walk through the mall.

Well, it turns out that, because I am depending on the automatic two-month extension given to people who live overseas, I have to file a paper return. According to Intuit's TurboTax, anyway. Ten hours wasted, from late Friday night to about five this morning, looking at different 3rd party's e-file stuff, trying to figure out which I distrust the least.

If I had bought printer ink yesterday, printed out the forms, and done the stuffpit tax report by hand, I'd have been done and got some decent sleep.

Yeah, bought printer ink. Depending on what sort of deal I can find, roughly $40 to $70 (JPY 3400 to 5600) for ink.

Yeah, I probably should buy some eventually, but that's a week's worth of rice plus maybe a day or two's worth of beans and vegetables for the family.

This is the problem with people who get fancy ideas of what is or is not too much of a burden when it comes to taxes. (And other detailed rules and regulations that people ought to follow. Other people, usually.)

Well, let's drop back and think for a minute.

I can get the forms somehow, fill them in by hand, mail them, and the IRS spends the money and time to enter the data into their databases and check it, etc.

Why can't I simply type up the form on a template that I could download from them and email it to them?

PDFs are almost there, but Adobe demands too much money for the software to edit them. So that wouldn't work as a sole solution, but might work as an optional solution. Admittedly, manually transferring the numbers from one screen to another is a little more stress on the eyes than from paper to a screen, but surely the IRS can give their workers sufficient breaks during the day.

MSOffice, of course, is owned by the convicted monopolist, so it should be dismissed out-of-hand. I'd say, offer it as an option, but the write-protect features are too easy to break, and too many taxpayers don't understand how they can make sure they have kept a copy of their own.

Open/LibreOffice would be great as an option.

But so would plain text. The formatting is not that hard, once you shake yourself of trying to imitate the format of the current forms. Those forms were designed to be easy to see while holding lots of data on one page. With computer files, the single page restriction can be set aside.

A partial example template:

For the submitter:

Last name: (type last name here)
First name: (type first name here)
Middle initial: (type middle initial here)

Social security number:  (type social security number here)
(If you do not have a social security number, please refer to <>.)

The IRS would have the taxpayer send this to an address where it would be automatically parsed, and the results of the parse sent back to the taxpayer:

Apparently, you did not type in your first name. This is what we received:

Last name: Joseph P. Sixpack
First name:
Middle initial:

Of course, this could be done almost as easily with an ordinary web page that does not try to calculate for you.

I suppose the expectations of many taxpayers, that the IRS should just calculate it all for them (Oh, ye who know not the meaning of freedom!) are the ultimate excuse that the IRS has for not doing this. But surely they could put up enough warnings?

(I am aware that the calculations by the IRS have to separate from the calculations done at submission time, because of certain principles in the science of information handling, if not for principles of freedom. But that also begs the conceit of not calling the 3rd party companies that provide tax software "tax preparers". Yes, they are preparing your taxes for you.)

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Courtesy is courteous.