Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The IRS Doesn't Want me to Pay my Taxes

I don't know about you, but I've always found quarterly estimated tax payments to be a bleeping nuisance.  It's not really the money: I'm a fairy docile taxpayer.  I've always shared the view of the crusty New England libertarian that "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society;"* hell, I have been known to err on the side of overpayment.

But those quarterlies--I have never yet invented a system that guarantees I will remember (a) the due date; (b) the amount due; (c) where I  stowed the paperwork; and, yes, (d) whether I have already paid them.  Huff, puff.  Grump.  Grrr.

Just lately I went in quest of the universal solvent--online payment.  Dealing with my State taxes, I found, to my pleasant surprise, that the State of California was ready, willing and able.  I glommed onto a user name and password just about the same way as I would at any commercial site; I logged on and made a payment, and I said yes, I would be most pleased if they would henceforth send me reminders (if I am conscientious, I will log on at my bank today to make sure it is posted).  I don't know whether this is "secure" or not--I suppose not--but if anyone wants to hack my account for the purpose of helping me to stump up, they should feel free.

But the Feds.  Ah, the Feds.  First, they don't want just a user name and password; they want user name and PIN and password.  More: they mail you the PIN, then you have to phone for the password.  When you finally get around to signing you find yourself being warned that you are  now being transferred to some other arm of the Federal government which may have different policies and that if I want that okay but it's my funeral.   Like virtually every other internet user, I ignore the warning text, then check the box saying that I have not ignored it, and then proceed to ground zero--the site for online payment.

But wait--quarterlies aren't there.  Or I can't find 'em.  Some taxes are listed--some I've never heard of and am delighted I do not have to pay.  But after doodling around for a few (more) minutes, I chucked it all, pulled out my paper checkboook (I still have one), found the tax paperwork (glory be!), went and stole a stamp and envelope from Mrs. B, and posted the payment.  Notice to the boys in the mailroom: those bad vibes have nothing to do with the tax itself; they are all about the nuisance of payment.

I suppose I might be missing something here--I am an old guy, I am not supposed to understand computers.  But my friend Taxmom, who lives with this every day, seems to believe I am on the right track:
Yes, the State has done a great job of streamlining things.  Fed is driving us up a wall b/c they require online payment for certain things, yet make it prohibitively difficult to arrange that payment.  We've seen the FTB (CA) be proactive in other respects as well....for instance they like most correspondence / forms submitted by fax these days, instead of reg email, also greatly streamlined the corporate revivor process (FTB handles finances of this even though it is a Sec of State issue) which used to be a nightmare.

Go California!
*He also said "get down, you fool!" 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the Fed electronic payment website seems to be down until the end of the year so as to get ready for the 2010 filing season.