Astonishingly, this year I got a refund on my federal taxes! Although this is actually due to an aggravating snafu with my moving expenses, so it's not like I'm actually getting surprise money here. Still, at least this means I don't have to figure out where all my checks disappeared to.
Anyway, it didn't take long to knock those out, then I started on the MA state taxes. Oh God. I actually don't mind filling out the federal forms, but I've never liked state tax forms. In the past it was because I always ended up randomly nickel-and-dimed and had to send the State of Illinois a check for five dollars or something ridiculous like that, but at least the tax forms were short and to the point. Here in MA, by contrast, the forms are just complex, disorganized, badly documented, and badly designed. A simple example of that: There are many places on a tax form where you'll compute an amount or a subtotal and then need to carry it forward to another section, and sometimes these are on different pages. On the federal 1040, they always have you copy the subtotal over to the next page. On the Massachusetts Form 1, they don't, and to do the math you have to flip back and forth between the two pages. It's just a rather pathetic little example of usability failure and one among many on this tax form, but it does stick in my craw.
What's really sketchy, though, is the Form HC. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has in its infinite wisdom come up with a solution to the problem of people lacking health insurance. They simply put a thing on the tax form where if you don't have health insurance, you pay a penalty. Um... gee whiz, that's sure thinking outside the box, I'll admit. Maybe they could extend that solution to poverty, too. Just fine anybody who's careless enough to be poor! That'll solve the problem!
I actually got a refund on the MA tax form as well due to the aforementioned moving snafu, but in a spasm of guilt ended up donating half of it to the transplant organ fund (whose job it is to support the purchase of immunosuppressant drugs for transplant recipients, an extremely worthy goal) and the other half to the MA military families' fund. I can't in all honesty say I'm an especially generous person charity-wise but I do prefer the sort of donations that appear on state income taxes to any others, simply because you don't then end up on somebody's mailing list until the end of time afterwards. I think I've finally escaped from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association database after that one donation several years ago, but nobody tell them my new address, OK?