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Showing posts from February, 2008

Preparing Real Good for Free (with apologies to Joni Mitchell)

I'm preparing income taxes for others for the first time in years, and I am loving it.

At work, we are well underway with our new project of being a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) site. January 31 was our kick-off, and since then, a co-worker and I have been doing returns every day. A third co-worker joins us next week. The IRS has provided us with booklets, guides, forms, training, and software. Our mission: to help more low-income people get refunds from earned income credit (EIC). Apparently many people eligible for this credit do not claim it.

We are certainly seeing low-income people, to the tune of 5 to 6 returns per day. We do their taxes on our computers, including electronic filing. I know that many of them would have to pay fees of three digits to commercial tax prep firms for what we are providing - for free.

I get to be the ERO! (That's an Electronic Return Originator.) W00t!

Almost everyone I have seen so far is a special case. The population of low-income wor…

Ruminations on Tsunami Tuesday

(originally written on Wednesday, February 6, 2008)

Hillary

For months now, I've been stomping around, saying No More Dynasties! This weekend I had a realization that has caused me to forgive Hillary for being married to Bill Clinton, and then running for President. What I realized is that the only reason why she is able to do what she is doing is BECAUSE she is married to power. There are plenty of other smart, well-informed, talented female politicians who simply cannot galvanize the resources to run for President.

I like her, by the way. She is an excellent Senator. She loves rural New York, and has been good to us. She even came and spoke at the annual St. Lawrence County Democratic Party dinner. This is a county about the size of Rhode Island, but with only 120,000 people - not a lot of votes here, folks. It was a great speech, too.

Maybe the next woman won't have to be the wife of an ex-President to run herself. This time, she does.


John McCain

I have many points of disagreeme…

Eagle Sighting

Robert and I went out to get the mail a couple of Saturdays ago, then decided to walk a little further, on the road alongside the beaver pond. We were well rewarded for getting some fresh air and exercise.

We startled a big bird that was perched in a tree and watched it fly away from us over the pond.

Huge bird - long, long wingspan with fingerlike wing tips - white head - white tail. It was a bald eagle.

Anyone who has been that close to an eagle in the wild knows the feeling. Your spirit wants to fly with the bird, until it is out of sight.

The other side of the story

Last night I knew - felt - why B reacted the way she did to my invoices. 180 degrees around to the other side of the story.

She is a woman of strong personality, who runs a busy department, who keeps having to do more with less due to budget cutbacks.

She just came back to work part-time, after surgery and treatments for ovarian cancer. Yeah, all of us women are shuddering at that one.

At the same time that she returned to work, a key person - the person who processed all those invoices from 50-some locations - retired.

Maybe she is having a hard time with the question "WHY?" right now.

I wouldn't blame her if she tore those invoices up into tiny pieces.

Seeing myself in the mirror of an email

Image
I had another gestalt experience at the end of last week.

One of my duties at work is to bill the University for grant-related expenses. The invoice forms I use are on the web. I pull up the web form, fill in the boxes, and click "Print & Save" at the bottom. I throw away the first print job, which is a raw download complete with nasty boxes around the entry fields and extraneous web stuff at the top and bottom of the pages. After the file saves, I can print a nice professional invoice from Word. It's an easy process, although I have to remember to open Internet Exploder, because the web forms don't work quite right in Firefox.

Recently I got an email saying that the web forms had changed, and to be sure and use the new ones. Not a problem, I use a fresh form every time rather than modifying a saved form. Then I got an email saying that they were getting lots of invoices submitted on old forms, and please use the new ones, old forms would be rejected. Again, not a …