Preserving and losing tax records

When you offer expert advice on something, such as digital preservation, you have to admit your own errors. I very nearly lost my 2016 tax return. When I tried to open it in TurboTax, the application just did nothing. I hadn’t exported it to a generally usable format. The TurboTax file format is proprietary and opaque.

Fortunately, after installing the latest updates to the software, I got it to work again. The first thing I did was to export my forms to a PDF file.

TurboTax had me unimpressed from the beginning. When I first tried to run it, it just exited without any message as soon as I launched it. Eventually I figured out that it would run only from an administrative account. There’s no reason that should be a requirement, and if it is, the software should say why it’s exiting. Doing nothing seems to be TurboTax’s standard error message.

This year I went back to a human preparer. The Jackson Hewitt office turned out to be a cubicle in a Wal-Mart with no privacy. I had a line of sight and hearing to a checkout ten feet away … but now I’m veering off topic. Income tax is just a choice of poisons.

If you use an application to prepare your income tax, make sure to export or print the form as soon as you’re finished with it. You could need it later, and the app might stop working.

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