What I am about to tell you is so completely ridiculous it would be totally depressing if it wasn’t, you know, actually funny. Like, not “ha ha” funny but “this is absurd” kind of funny. You know me; I have to find the humor to stave off the freak-outs.
Longtime Cornered Office readers know that I blog about taxes a lot. With each passing year and with each step I take to organize my business, I’m always convinced that next year I’m finally going to get it right, by gum. I mean, sure, I had to make a lump sum payment in 2007 because I’d failed to plan properly, but I did that, learned from it, and moved on. And then in 2007 I had an accountant and I’d made my estimated payments so, despite a few bumps, I was sure I’d gotten it right. I remained sure of that until I found out that my estimated payments were too low, and I ended up owing an even larger lump sum than the previous year (which was sort of adding insult to injury, as I’d been making payments throughout the year). But it was okay! Because 2009 was going to be my year.
You know where I’m going with this, right?
In 2009 I incorporated my business. We also recalculated my quarterly payments. When I turned everything over to the accountant this year I was positively triumphant over my bookkeeping. I’d done everything right, finally. And we were done with our taxes in early February.
Sure, the bill from the accountant smarted, just a little. Now in addition to paying him to do our personal returns, I pay a second fee for my business return, of course, which means I’m paying twice as much as before. But it’s money well spent. He finished our returns, I picked them up, glanced over them while signing, and sent everything off with the required checks.
I was Queen of the World. For about a month.
That’s because one month after we submitted our returns, I got a 1099 in the mail. A very, very late 1099, which I had somehow not noticed I’d never received.
I called my accountant in a panic. He was now armpit-deep in everyone else’s returns, of course, and told me to give him a couple of weeks, but not to worry, we would file an amended return, no problem.
I worried anyway, of course, because that’s what I do. And I knew I’d have to pay him for the amendment, and I was aggravated about that, because—although the senders of the late 1099 missed the federal deadline—it was 100% my fault for not cross-checking the totals with my bookkeeping before sending everything in.
A couple of weeks later, I got another late 1099. I despaired. But, hey, at least it came before we did the amendments.
Today I’m mailing off my amended returns. My failure to double-check cost me an additional thousand dollars in taxes, as well as nearly twice as much in accountant’s fees, simply because I was lazy. Lest you think I’m being melodramatic, no, this is entirely because I got lazy. If my taxes were a Greek tragedy, this is where I would fall to my knees and bemoan my hubris and repent.
Because this isn’t a Greek tragedy, and because I’m on a diet, I am merely blogging about it, feeling annoyed, and eating a grapefruit. You’re welcome.
(Moral of the story: Don’t be lazy. Never assume everything is correct. Check it once, check it twice, do not waste money on oversights.)