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March 5, 2004
Volume 41, No. 8

features

The dog ate my taxes
Tips for toiling with taxes
Campus Campaign nears fund-raising goals
Urban and regional planning invites 600 alumni to visit

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The University of Iowa

The dog ate my taxes!


Dog with an incriminating shred of a tax form hanging from her mouth
Photos by Tom Jorgensen.
 

Faculty and staff members share filing frenzy

 

Trouble navigating your taxes?

Don’t panic—fyi associate editor Amy Schoon has compiled a list of helpful tax resources.

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”

That’s what Albert Einstein reportedly once said. And Pulitzer-prize-winning author Herman Wouk was quoted as saying, “Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.”

Then there’s Benjamin Franklin’s oft-repeated thought that “in this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

One more thing of which you can be certain: most everyone out there has a comment, opinion, gripe, expletive, or tale of woe—in short, their two cents worth—to offer about taxes.

To prove it, members of the fyi staff trekked across campus in mid February to ask faculty and staff members about the “T” word. Many declined to be interviewed (whether they were hiding from the IRS, we didn’t ask). But several were quick to respond and willing to expound on the notion that America has a love-hate relationship with tax season.

“What’s the first thing that comes to mind—your first reaction—to the word ‘taxes’? Why?”

Jean Aikin
Jean Aikin, history department secretary:

“Dread. Every year, I get a little refund check from the state and use it to pay the big federal taxes I owe,” she says with a sigh. “Oh, it’s income tax, then property taxes and sales tax, it just never ends.

“And then there are those young single ones who get money back. They have a whole different perspective on this,” she says, pointing to her coworker Pat Goodwin, who was clapping and giggling as she announced she was waiting for her checks in the mail.

 

 

Cory Connors, classics department secretary:

“Necessary evil. We think of it as a nuisance to have to pay taxes,” she admits. “But they’re definitely put to use for things we expect our government to provide, like infrastructure. I do it early and do TeleFile now for the federal return because it’s so easy.”

Some might not want to read this part. Connors says her taxes are “already done and I’ve already gotten my refund.”

 

 

Catherine Till
Catherine Till
Catherine Till, computer science department administrative assistant:

“Got to get them done! I have two kids in college and their financial aid forms are hinging on those tax return figures,” she says. “I’m pressed to get the taxes done, plus it’s a busy time at work. We’re in the middle of faculty recruiting, we just completed a major overhaul of both our grad and undergrad curricula and all the paperwork is now due, I have a staff vacancy, and my oldest daughter just left for New Zealand...could any more be going on?”

There’s one thing to be thankful for, she says. “Our taxes are so uncomplicated. I do them myself with TurboTax, and they’re pretty easy.”

 

 
Alberto Segre
Alberto Segre
Alberto Segre, computer science professor:

“I have to pay them,” he says, with a hint of exhaustion registering on his face. “I dread the process of actually compiling the forms. My tendency is to do them on time, but I have had to file extensions before.

“Like I tell my students, procrastinating on your taxes is like waiting to do your homework at the last minute. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for that,” he says. He does praise Iowa for its unique filing deadline: “The fact Iowa’s taxes are due 15 days after the federal taxes is an incredibly civil, decent thing. It’s a nice touch.

“Really, taxes are a lot easier now with all the tax-preparation software. It’s not that bad. I don’t actually mind paying my taxes—fair’s fair.”

 

 
Daniel Anderson
Daniel Anderson
Daniel Anderson, mathematics professor:

“Time. I have to spend a lot of time filling out the tax forms. I know the tax laws well, and I enjoy doing it myself. I’m certainly not hiring someone when 90 percent of the work of doing your taxes is getting the information you need in front of you,” he says. “My taxes are pretty complicated, usually 12 to 15 forms to fill out. I’ll do a quick estimate and if I’m going to get a refund, I’ll do it earlier.”

Does this numbers guy have any advice for fellow taxpayers? “Keep good records and read those tax books,” he says.

 
Anne Duggan
Anne Duggan
Anne Duggan, assistant director of health science relations publications:

“Read my lips,” she says with a smile.

“We usually wait until the last minute, but we have a kid going to college, so we had it done before February. That was a horror. And we pay somebody to do it now,” she says. “Every time we’ve done it ourselves, we get a letter from the government saying we did it wrong.

“I think numbers scare a lot of people. They freeze up. How many people actually balance their checkbooks? Not very many, I’m sure.”

 

 

John Laverty
John Laverty
John Laverty, assistant director of admissions:

“I haven’t done my taxes in 10 years,” he says. No, don’t call the feds on him for tax evasion. He just lets his wife deal with the paperwork.
“I got lucky when I got married. My wife is an attorney with an MBA and she works in a firm with a tax lawyer and someone whose spouse is an accountant,” he says. “I put all my faith in her. I can kick back and just say, ‘Honey, have you got them done yet?’ I’m not stressed at all.”

 

by Amy Schoon

 

Published by University Relations Publications. Copyright the University of Iowa 2003. All rights reserved.
   

 

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