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Taxes and rebates


My usual strategy is to wait 'til tax day (or very close to it), then dig through whatever pile of papers contains the last couple months' worth of mail and find all the relevant tax documents.

This year I was all set. I had been carefully stacking all tax-related documents in a particular pile of paper on my kitchen table as they came in, and I knew right where they were.

But somehow I didn't manage to get the return done early, and then sometime in the past three or weeks I had to clean up a little so I moved all the paper off the table and into my room. And then last week I had to clear some space in my room so I moved all the paper into fewer taller stacks. During neither of those processes did it occur to me to track where the tax documents were.

So of course tonight before I could start my taxes I had to spend an hour or so digging through tall stacks of paper to try to find the right stratum.

But eventually I found everything I needed, and I even got rid of a bunch of junk paper in the process. So it all turned out okay.

Side note: Intuit now charges $30 for their "free" state product; it becomes free only if you fill in the rebate form, which comes on a slip of paper in the box with the CD. I was all set to fill in the form when I saw that it recommended going to their rebate site to get a faster rebate. Cool, thought I, you can file the rebate online now! But no; it turns out (after much hoop-jumping and several confusing pages, in which they try to con you into taking a "reward" or "gift" of a cheap software or hardware product "valued at" $30-$100 instead of getting cash) that if you sign up online you actually have to send them more paper than if you don't, because you have to print out their online form and then attach the original rebate form and papermail them both in. Theoretically, this will decrease processing time. (The FAQ claims that the reason normal processing time is 6-8 weeks is that they (the rebate-processing company, which evidently isn't Intuit) get millions of rebates and have to give each one individual attention. Kind of "To better serve you, we take a ridiculously long time.") I tend to suspect that the entire process is designed to do everything possible to discourage people from claiming rebates.


I tend to suspect that the entire process is designed to do everything possible to discourage people from claiming rebates.

I've always suspected that. I suspect the average mail-in rebate is claimed by fewer than half the consumers because the others just forget or don't think it's worth the bother or don't get something quite right with the paperwork, and I'm sure that's part of the design, either in that it allows the rebated price to be artificially lower than would be profitable if 100% of consumers claimed the rebate -- thus enticing more people to buy the product because of the perceived lower price -- or in that it just gives a little extra profit to the retailer and/or manufacturer for each unclaimed rebate. (I expect it's the former of those two.)

This tendency on Intuit's part has slowly started to piss me off over the years. I still like their product, but more grudgingly each year.

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