Saturday, April 10, 2010

A comma made a big difference today

As a technical writer, I am often amused, in a sort of wry, sardonic sort of way, about the wacky, yet intense arguments that arise when a group of us get together. Silly things like where to use bold fonts, the use of dangling participles, splitting infinitives, and the use of commas.

Ah, but today, I am very fond of the comma. I started the process of filing my taxes a couple of weeks ago and didn't finish it because the tax filing software was telling me that I owed the government quite a bit of money. Having had 3 employers and a month of unemployment last year, I kind of figured that my taxes would result in me underpaying. But, I was taken back by how much.

So, I fussed around, trying to figure out what might help bring down my tax payment. I thought that declaring my worthless Nortel stock (delisted completely in 2009...not trading anywhere) would help. But, I didn't realize that the loss there would only help if I had capital gains somewhere else. Which, of course, makes sense, once I thought about it a bit.

But then (drum roll, please!), I realized that the amount shown for my annual income was way off. Yup, I had added an extra comma in the wages and income area! Woo hoo! Making that correction left me with a nice return from the Feds (although I STILL had to pay state tax...why is it that my employers NEVER take out enough state tax????).

What a relief! I'm not getting a huge amount back, but enough to cover what I owe for state taxes and still have a noticeable amount left over. So, here I was, waiting for the last minute because I thought I'd have to pay big $$ and there was a refund waiting for me after all.

What a difference a comma can make!!

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