Filing your 2018 tax return? How's it going?

Filing your 2018 tax return? How's it going?


I have no problem with Fidelity saying that they won’t have information on every single one of their foreign tax paying funds until late March. What I have an issue with is their refusal to publish the information as the numbers are finalized. Nobody else does that as far as I know.

The fund is FIENX, by the way.


Oh, yeah, that’s fair. You’d think that would be a pretty simple calculation that could be automated.


You may be right, but of the dozen or so that I know in that group, they’re with shinobi - although probably not for the same reasons. :slight_smile:


I wonder whether there is data on audit rates of e-filers vs. paper filers.

My guess is that there is not much difference outside of people messing up entries and calculations. Part of our company handles a mix of paper and electronic documents so assuming the IRS does it similarly, my guess is the audit part, even for paper filers, is handled automatically until a machine flags it for manual review.

A low-paid job is to get those paper returns, then get them scanned and OCRed. The person scanning them in does not read them, only insures that the scan is OCRable. Then it’s probably routed automatically to be computer-checked just like e-files are.


One article I saw said that manual returns were 21x more likely to have mistakes than efiled returns. If the IRS uses any sort of data analytics, I would think that the likelihood of a return over $X AGI getting reviewed/audited is much higher if it was done manually.

Not only that, but OCR machines make mistakes too. So I would think a higher percentage of manually filed returns have real eyes on them even if they don’t have mistakes by the preparer because of mistakes by the IRS.


found a reference here :

“The IRS reports that the error rate for paper returns is 21%, which means that one in five tax filers who go this route manages to muck something up. The error rate for electronic returns, on the other hand, is less than 1%”

Theres also this on the topic :

Their #1 myth is that efiling is more likely to trigger audits.

I see zero reason to think efiling is riskier.

Honestly to me it seems that 90% of what people think about audits is based on random assumptions spread around the internet.


I think you are conflating printed out paper returns with hand-written (manual?) paper returns. My paper return is done using tax software. The likelihood of mistakes in my printed return is exactly the same as if I e-filed.


In post 160, I said paper. In post 172, I said manual. Let me clarify. I mean manual. I mean not using a tax software program to prepare your return, do the arithmetic, calculate the tax and print the correct forms. The likelihood of mistakes in your return might be the same, but the likelihood the IRS makes a mistake importing it has gone up with you sending it in on paper rather than efiling it.


Finally got the one piece of information that I needed to file (spoiler alert: FIENX … an international fund … got 100% of its income outside the U.S. Go figure).

For various reasons, this year was the most complex return I’ve filed in the last 20 years and I have zero W-2 income and took standard deduction!

An example of little gotchas that made my head spin even using Turbotax … getting an early withdrawal penalty on a CD creates a requirement for an additional piece of documentation to claim Foreign Tax Credit (Form 1116) … even though the CD and its institution had nothing to do with foreign anything.

Glad it is over. Return accepted in less than five minutes.


I have empathy. I had to file the AMT form because of a combination of small amount of private activity bond interest in some muni bond funds I bought last year and some qualified dividends. Neither of those alone would have triggered it. I sold those funds right after doing our taxes, but I’ll have to go through it again next year.


I used H&R Block SW this year. When I went to pay my federal taxes with my BofA Premium Rewards card, it linked me to the H&R Block version of the site with a 2.49% fee for CC processing (using Internet Explorer). I then promptly went to a Chrome and paid through the website for a 1.87% fee.
H&R Block is upsetting because they installed tracking on my IE version so every time I go to the website it loads in the special H&R Block page with a 2.49% fee.


TurboTax was almost as devious. When it asked me if I was going to pay taxes with a credit card, it implied strongly that there was only one option to do so and at a rate higher than 1.89%. You have to tell it that you will mail a check later in order to use


It’s probably just a cookie. Clear your cookies. Also don’t use IE.


Gosh I started this thread way back nearly two months ago. Little did I realize then what was coming. For a fossilized tax filer like me this was an unusually difficult filing year. It will be better a year from now, of course, if I’m still around and filing a year hence. Hope I am.

Anyway, it was all the changes that got me good this time. Until now, even filing my antiquated paper return, things went quickly because I had the past year’s return to act as a guide. Not this time!

Undeterred, I believed I could nevertheless “rise to the challenge”. And I did. Except it took a much longer time than usual to accommodate to the changes. And I made mistakes, eventually corrected, because of being unfamiliar with the new forms.

It is clear the IRS is doing everything possible to discourage us fossilized paper return filers. They want us to e-file. Well, fiddlesticks. S’not gonna happen.

Most annoying though, this year, was their likely purposeful inefficient use of paper. I very nearly cut some of the forms in half, since most of several pages was left blank. But I gave in this time, and spent the money for extra postage instead. Clearly the IRS senses the monetary shortfall at the USPS and is doing its bit to help out.

Did come out decent on the tax itself, the amount I needed to pay. My income was way up compared with 2017, but my tax owed was quite a bit down. The refund check (yes, a paper check) will be sweet when it arrives, I hope, in May. I do not live in one of the several high (state) tax states targeted by Trump and the Republicans. We voted for Trump and he has now paid us back rather handsomely.

Anyway, bottom line, a difficult experience which could I suppose have been worse. Now I have to fill out my state tax return.:grinning:


I respect your determination to file manually and to put your money where your mouth is by paying extra postage. I’m too busy (and lazy and cheap) to do that myself.

Just out of curiosity - and with the understanding that it depends on how complex your return is -, how long did it take you in totality to file both federal and state returns?

It’s hard for me to quantify the part about record keeping since it’s spread out thru the year but the filling itself is a bit easier. Ours took me 5 hours this year, mostly because I had to figure out what to enter in some interview questions that differed from the previous years’ routine. I guess it could have been shorter if I essentially did not do the interview twice (once with CK and once with TT). Honestly even though we did not itemize, that was about the same time as every year so I was a bit disappointed. But I hope it’ll be faster next year since I’ll have a previous return to compare it to.


Thanks. State return remains unstarted. Probably will have to pay them money. No tax reform in my state.

On the Federal:

Whereas in the past preparing the return might have consumed, perhaps, half a day . . . . this time it took more like two to three days. Part of that was owing to a serious error I only caught at the very last minute.

Next year I should be back to half a day . . . . provided they do not change everything once again. I rely on my last year’s return as a guidepost. When that goes away things take a whole lot longer.

Also, and I realize this is likely TMI:

For us older folks something like this is a wake-up call and perhaps a dope slap. I know intellectually that the changes were not ALL that much and doing even the new return was not a serious challenge. Or it would not have been for me thirty years ago. But that was then and this is now. I was frankly disappointed with myself over the way I handled this. One does not enjoy being presented with prima facie evidence that one is slipping. It’s not that I was unable to complete the return. It is instead that the effort required to do so was too great.




Hey!!! I confessed to being old. I did not say I was CRAZY!!:rofl:


I wish I could like your post. :slight_smile: I use free fillable forms and am a bit gun shy on trying software ever since Turbo Tax made an error regarding employer HSA contributions 2 years in a row. That said, it took me a bit longer only because of having to fill out a new form, not because of the overall form changes. Federal, state, local, all done a month ago.

Perhaps we should lobby for the elimination of paper filing, to drag @shinobi kicking and screaming into the present day. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Shinobi, I get the feeling we are a similar demographic, so I hope you take this with the spirit it is intended. Tax preparation and tax law is much too complex and labyrinthine to attempt to do manually. In my opinion, and apparently that of others here, you are setting yourself up for unwanted IRS scrutiny and attention by doing exactly the things you are doing to try to avoid it.

If you want to do it manually, do like I do … start the interview process just far enough to import basic info and carryovers from last year, and then go back and forth between forms mode and step-by-step mode depending on your comfort level.