Sunday, January 27, 2008

You want my advice about what?

On a good day, I feel minimally competent to give advice about books I have read and enjoyed. So I get a fresh shock each year when people come in and ask my tax advice. I try to listen patiently to the question and at the first pause I say something like, "I'm really sorry, but I'm not allowed to give tax advice." Then I try to get out the AARP-staffed FREE tax help appointment book to sign them up for FREE help. (Did I mention it was without cost? Freebie? Comp? Gratis? Not a single simoleon need change hands?) This is usually not good enough. The person (often a twenty-something guy) wants to know which form he's supposed to fill out, the 1040, 1040A or the 1040EZ? What's the difference between the 1040 and the 1040A? I tell him that I am not allowed to give tax advice again, but he doesn't want advice, you see, just to know which form he's supposed to use. And on. It's dispiriting. Even when I tell them that I do not do my own taxes and haven't for many many years because I made such a mess of them, people seem to think that I'm just holding out on them.

The only thing more annoying is people asking where the tax forms are, since they are about 4 and a half feet from the asker.

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