Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mathematics

The bane of my existence: mathematics. It is a demon to me, an incomprehensible thing. And yet, I feel satisfaction when I use math to solve a problem or to complete an order at work.

We need math in our world today, whether it's to balance a checkbook or be able to count out change in a retail transaction. I've managed to survive with basic math skills -- addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, figuring percentages, ratios, etc. But I put off doing my tax returns every year because they require math. I don't enjoy math.

This year, the IRS sent me a letter in June requesting...something. The language was far from clear and it took me four careful readings to figure out what they needed from me. They wanted me to re-work and re-submit the form for ACA tax credit premium subsidy thing. Ugh. Form 8962.





The first time I filled out Form 8962, I thought that the IRS had really made this reporting far more complicated than it needed to be, and therefore, more difficult for people like me who have no head for math. I followed the instructions as closely as I could. When I'd finished, I thought it was fine. The IRS disagreed, and reworked it for me.


This year, I realized my life in 2015 had been more complicated than in 2014, and it took me longer to work through the math of Form 8962. Once again, I thought I'd completed the form correctly and submitted it. Once again, the IRS disagreed. This time, as I mentioned above, they sent me a letter requesting that I re-work it and submit documentation in support of that re-working.

OK.

I began by pulling out my 2015 tax file and going through the documents I'd used to do Form 8962 the first time. As I read through them again, I realized that I'd had a change (even though I requested no change) in my premium tax credit because MNSure had finally finished making a change in my application that I'd requested -- so the premium tax credit change occurred in April.

OK.

I had not gotten the premium tax credit for the month of January because I'd kept the medical insurance I'd had in 2014 for that month until I'd finished my MNSure application and submitted it (I've written about the craziness that occurred in October through December 2014 with MNSure before). That medical insurance for January wasn't eligible for a premium tax credit so I'd paid the full premium.

OK.

So, there was no premium tax credit subsidy in January but I had the form that showed I had had insurance that month. I'd had one level of premium tax credit for the months of February and March; then a different level in April through December. I possessed two forms for the premium tax credit received for February through December, but one was for the level in February and March applied through December, and the other was for the level in April applied from February through December. Now how confusing is that?

What I ended up doing is marking each of the premium tax credit received forms in ink with a notation about when the change occurred and what was the correct time period each form covered. Then I wrote a letter explaining the mistake I'd made and why I'd made it, and included the corrected Form 8962 and page 2 of my 1040 Form.  Whew!  They must have been satisfied because I received my tax refund yesterday. But really, I wonder if someone who loves math and is good at it would have had the same problems I did.


Mixing math and computers is another area where I have problems. For example, when I work in Excel with numbers and functions, I have to go slowly and very carefully. But I do love how Excel does everything for me once I've given the program the necessary instructions. Now if I could just find a computer program that could just do all the math for me that I encounter in my life!




2 comments:

cheryl (clee') said...

Have you ever tried the online tax services like TaxAct? They are free to certain income groups and instead of just forms to fill out, they ask all the questions necessary to make sure you have entered everything you have. The math is done for you. In your case, if you had a change, you may have had to re-do them anyway, but the free services allow amended returns too. I love math, but I still use these services. Nice printed copies to mail or e-file!

Gina said...

Hi, Cheryl, thanks for stopping by! No, I haven't used the online tax services in the past. I don't really like doing things online when I need to use my SS number. It took me a long time to trust PayPal enough to use that website for financial transactions. Call me old fashioned. I like to be paranoid about my personal information. Thanks for the TaxAct tip, though. Maybe I'll check it out next year!