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Sunday, April 21, 2024

I’m a 22-year-old college student about to graduate. I live on my own. I cook for myself. I drive my own car.

But I’ve never entered the deep, dark abyss that is filing my own taxes.

Last year I worked as a photographer and did freelance work on the side, which left me with two glorious tax forms to file. So I decided to give taxes a try.

A quick Google search led me to, “FREE Tax Filing. TurboTax is the #1 best-selling tax software.”

“Seems legit,” I thought.

I was directed to a “Tell us about you” page. Unfortunately, there was only one answer choice that applied to me.

I clicked on “Single,” which I was asked to confirm three more times.

Last year, “29 million folks filed with TurboTax,” according to the site.

I was not alone.

So I braced myself. I sang words of encouragement in my head and promised myself a cupcake upon completion.  

It was time.

Filing the W-2 form was easy, like tax filing for dummies. Fill this out. Then click on this. Find this number here and so on.

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But in order to file the 1099 form, I had to buy the $54.99 deluxe version.

So much for free. Grumbling, I pulled out my credit card and signed away my adolescence.

I was then hit with a jumble of obscure questions concerning “exemptions” and “deductions.”

It was like taking a lie detector test.

Question after question caused a ring of sweat beads above my eyebrows.

I had to call my mom five times. She eventually directed me to Paul, our accountant. Neither were much help.

Three hours later, I was done. I felt like I just aged 10 years and could already taste that cupcake.

Although TurboTax tries to rid itself of tax jargon, the process was still incredibly confusing and time consuming.

And who knows if I did it right? When Internal Revenue Service agents show up at my door, I’ll know why.

Next time I’ll be more likely to go to H&R Block or Liberty Tax Services. Hopefully they’ll only ask once if I’m single.

In the end, I was left with a whopping $35 return, which means I’ll have to trade Chipotle for Taco Bell this week.

[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 4/14/2015]

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