I finally got around to doing my taxes. I owe money to the IRS. I owe money to the California Franchise Tax Board. I owe money to the Missouri Department of Revenue. And I owe money to Ronald Leggett at the St. Louis Earnings Tax Department. More on that later.
First off, I want to complain about TurboTax. I’m going to skip over the rant about how the “FREE Electronic Filing” and “FREE TurboTax State” are both “after rebate,” and concentrate on the part where “Multiple State programs must be installed from the same TurboTax State CD.” This means that I couldn’t just pick up two discount-priced TurboTax State boxes at Sam’s, but instead had to pay Intuit directly for the second State activation code, at full retail price. Gah. Maybe I can use my “FREE TurboTax State” rebate on the activation code.
Second: Has anyone else noticed that state tax codes are much more complex and annoying than the national ones? TurboTax doesn’t help much. The TurboTax State “smarts” just don’t seem up to the caliber of the Federal forms. For example: As a part-year resident of Missouri, I have the option of filing either as a resident or as a non-resident. TurboTax makes me pick up front, without much hint as to which one might be best for me. Once the choice is made, the only way I found to change it is to delete the entire state return and start over. I would have imagined that TurboTax could have collected all the relevant information, and then picked the best form to use once it had all the data at hand. But never mind.
Finally, I wish to complain about the City of St. Louis, which charges a one percent earnings tax on residents of the City. All fine and good (although the number of court cases the City has been involved in defending the constitutionality of this tax is surprisingly large—my favorite is Lawyer’s Association of St. Louis v. City of St. Louis), until you get to part-year City residents. If the instructions on the form are to be taken at their word, the City determines the “non-residency deduction” based on the number of days worked outside the city. Unlike California and Missouri, who use the reasonable metric of how much money you made in the state, the City of St. Louis wants me to base my tax on how much time I spent there. To wit, this means that even though I have been mostly unemployed and only 22% of my income was earned while living here, they want me to pay twice that, since I lived in the City five months out of the year.
However, the St. Louis City Revised Code (Chapter 5.22, section 040, paragraph A) seems to admit my preferred interpretation, so I think I’ll just ignore Schedule NR and send the Collector of Revenue (the aforementioned Mr. Leggett) a check for how much I think I should owe the City. If they complain, I can always sue.