Doing income tax today. I've been figuring my tax manually since I started working in 1970, and this year is the first REAL CHANGE in the forms. The personal exemption and standard deduction have been merged into one standard deduction, which makes sense. Form 1040 has been splintered into several new schedules, which doesn't make sense.
Previously I was submitting a 1040, C-EZ, and SSE. This year it's 1040; C-EZ; a schedule that repeats the info on C-EZ; SSE; and a schedule that repeats the info on SSE. Pointless duplication.
I suppose this is yet another stupid fake fulfillment of the meaningless "tax on a postcard" promise that politicians always push.
The most complex part of my figuring in recent years is the peculiar flowchart for Social Security, which usually ends up with zero taxable benefits. This figuring is more complex than the stuff on the schedules but it still doesn't have its own schedule. It's just part of the instructions in the main PDF, so I have to record the process in a plain old text file.
Seems odd that the first REAL CHANGE in many decades hasn't made news. I read lots of econ-oriented webpages, and none of them are talking about this. Caught me by surprise.
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When they pulled out those schedules they didn't fix up the instructions. At the end of Schedule 1, on line 36, the total of adjustments to 'other income' just sits there, with no mention of where it flows back into the 1040. The instructions for Schedule 1 don't give the answer. I found the answer in an obscure forum for Intuit software. This total goes into Line 7 on the 1040 itself, and the instructions ON line 7 tell you this. Bad practice. When a total has to go somewhere, the destination should be specified with the total. You shouldn't have to search through other forms and forums to figure out where it goes.
This failure is also unprecedented. The IRS has always done an excellent job with instructions, given the tangled mess of requirements they have to implement. Congress writes tax "law" to enrich specific NYC demons, not to be consistent or intelligible. Until this year, IRS was a shining example of clarity and precision. You couldn't hope to understand WHY this number was supposed to be multiplied by 0.9253 and placed in line 23a, but you always knew exactly WHAT to do with every variable and function.