If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tax Time

Tax time is here. Personal income taxes are bad enough, but this year I ended up handling the tax reports for an investment club. My husband has been treasurer for years, but midway through 2017, he became unable to handle it. I tried to get someone else in the club to take over, but no one was interested. I can’t say as I blame them. I told everyone I was going to close the club, and while the members were a bit sad, no one was willing to volunteer, so I went ahead and closed it.

But it had to be done, and tax forms completed. The records were all on a computer program, so how hard could it be?

Right. I’m not what you’d call computer literate, and finances are far from my strong point.

Although I struggled with the program, I could see where it probably did its work quite well if the person operating it had the vaguest knowledge of what he or she was doing.

Unfortunately, that didn’t include me.

The instructions were not only written for people with a modicum of intelligence, they were written
for someone who had a basic understanding of financial transactions.

Once again, that didn’t include me.

Accessing the “search” feature merely brought up a notice that “search” was undergoing a renovation and not available at this time.

We visited the brokerage firm office to close out the account in late December. I have no desire to do taxes for the club in 2018, so I wanted to be sure all transactions happened in 2017.

The person with whom I was dealing assured me that no more dividends would be distributed and proceeded to sell all the stock the club owned. It was only later that I realized I could have sold the stock myself instead of letting him punch the button on the computer and would have saved $30 per transaction.

I also discovered that the brokerage firm had misreported a sales transaction and the IRS had withheld a portion of the proceeds. It took a fair amount of digging and the assistance of the office of my local representative to Congress to unearth the fact that the brokerage had a typo in the name of the club when they sent in the report. Despite all the paperwork I eventually collected, the representative of the firm blithely denied any responsibility for the error.

Each member owned a different percentage of the club’s assets, depending up things like how long they had been a member, what time of the month they made their contribution, and whether they had made extra contributions. I added together the funds from the sale of the stock and the reserve account in a bank. Then I figured out how much each person should get. I called the bank and was told that cashier’s checks were $10 each. It seemed expensive, but I didn’t see much alternative. So I subtracted $10 from each person’s distribution.

When I went to the bank to deposit the broker’s check and get checks for the members, the bank insisted on letting the check clear before I could get the money. It was a fairly substantial amount, so I didn’t think that was unreasonable.

A statement from the brokerage firm was waiting for me when I got back from the bank. It included dividends paid into the account after all the stock had been sold. Which of course would change all the calculations.

I returned to the bank a few days later, handed in my list of payees and amounts, and waited for the nice lady to get the checks. After an interminable delay (was there a problem? What had I done wrong?) she came back with the checks. And a stack of $10 bills. It seems that when an account is being closed, there was no charge for the cashier’s checks. A new set of checks could be produced, but they would cost $10 each, so the new checks would be for the same amount.

I needed stamps to mail everything, but it was a bit late to realize that I should have purchased them and added them to expenses before I figured out the amount to be distributed to everyone. I decided I would just pay for the stamps myself.

When I finally got everything completed on the computer, I had an astronomical number of pages to print out. I ran out of paper and I had to run out and get more. Then I ran out of ink. But I always keep a spare ink cartridge.

Everybody would think it was weird, but I stuck a $10 bill in each envelope, along with a check, a K-1 form and a distribution of assets form. And a note trying to explain.

The stack of envelopes needed their stamps. Which were nowhere to be found. I knew I’d put them on the table with all the paperwork, so I shifted through everything, trying to sort everything into reasonable stacks. No stamps.

Finally giving up, I decided to see if I had enough stamps in my own supply to mail everything. As I went into the living room, one of our cats, aptly named Jack the Tripper, dashed between my feet. He was carrying something in his mouth. Something that looked suspiciously like a sheet of stamps.

When I got him cornered and offered a catnip mouse in exchange, I was able to retrieve the stamps.

I knew I still had the state forms to fill out, but they weren’t available yet. All the information was stored in the computer, I hoped, and I really wanted to get these things in the mail and out of my hands. This wasn’t the kind of mailing I should leave in my unlocked rural mailbox for the carrier to pick up, so I drove to the post office. I sent the forms to the IRS, which were due by March 15, by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Two weeks later, well after March 15, when I still hadn’t gotten the return receipt, I checked the tracking. The large envelope to the IRS was listed as “delayed.” It seemed to have disappeared somewhere between my local post office and Cincinnati. I went into the post office in a panic. The post master was not in, but the clerk looked at my paperwork and dutifully explained that it would be postmarked on the day I mailed it, so it would be considered on time.

But suppose it never surfaced?

That would be a different kind of problem, she said, but I did have a copy, didn’t I? Well, yes, but I could just envision the hassles this would entail. She carefully took notes, made a photocopy of my receipts, and said the post master would look into it.

Two days later, the receipt showed up. I have no idea what the postmaster did to shake it loose, but I decided not to ask questions unless I encountered more problems.

In the same mailing was an envelope from the stock brokerage. It contained an amended statement for the club’s account.

And I still have the state forms to file.


Jim Jackson said...

My father bought a few shares in two limited partnerships several years before his death. Those transferred to my mother after his death, and I do her taxes. It’s a good thing Dad has already passed because this year after I sold the things, I could have killed him for the time it took me to figure out the tax ramifications.

The only good thing is that I did it while Mom was alive; if I had split the things after her death to her three children, I would have had to do that work in triplicate.

And yesterday -- long after I filed Mom's taxes, Vanguard just issued revised 1099s that reclassified interest as qualified dividends. The good news is that Mom will save a little bit of money. The bad news is that I have a 1040 X in my future.

Margaret Turkevich said...

Kathleen, what a nightmare! Congrats to you for standing your ground and not giving up. I hope the end is in sight.

Settling my mother's estate was "simple" by comparison.

Gloria Alden said...

Oh, Kathleen, how awful, but I'm glad you were able to finally fix everything. I'm lucky that my tax returns are pretty simple compared to yours, and also I have a super great tax person who is worth the money I pay her every year. She has a lot of clients, too. This year I'm getting a lot of money back in income taxes overpaid and in my Ohio income tax, too.

Julie Tollefson said...

Oh, Kathleen, what an ordeal! I admire your persistence!

Warren Bull said...

That reminds me of all I have to get done. Yipes!

KM Rockwood said...

Jim, I find it comforting to know that someone as astute in financial matters (after all, your novels all have serious financial dealings) finds this a pain. The investment clubs are, of course, limited partnerships. With qualified and unqualified dividends.

Margaret, Gloria and Julie--thanks for sympathizing with my whining!

Warren, might as well get to it. It doesn't go away, and just gets much worse (and more expensive) if you miss the deadlines.

Kaye George said...

What a nightmare! Well told, even though it's a horror story.