Hiccup in filing city tax returns

Jerry Coon

The Grand Rapids Press is causing some consternation in the Coon household. My habit is to read selected portions of the Press, such as the sports and the business sections. I glance at the front page and usually read the “Perspective” section with the opinions and letters to the editor.

However, Deb’s habit is to read through the entire Press every day. It’s something she looks forward to or, should I say, used to look forward to.

From now on, Deb will only be reading the Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday papers. She is not a happy camper because she won’t be reading the Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday papers. Going to m-live.com and reading those missing days on the Web isn’t quite the same thing as sitting down on the couch and perusing the Press.

Oh well, you might say, that’s progress. It’s the green way of doing things. It’s the wave of the future. We have all read the explanation of the changes as provided by the management of M-Live Media Group. The explanation hasn’t made Deb any happier. Is this really the wave of the future with the Grand Rapids Press being the first of many newspapers to follow suit? Or is this a Classic Coke, a Ford Edsel, a Lions hiring Matt Millen, a Boston Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, a Hunt Brothers believing they could hoard all of the silver in the world, or one of a multitude of other similar decisions that will go down in history as one that was not so good? We will find out soon.

I know Deb would love to see the Press going back to being delivered every day, but I’m not holding my breath. Either the management is brilliant and has M-Live on the cutting edge or they have made a slight error. I’m an optimist at heart, but what other city in the United States the size of Grand Rapids has a daily newspaper that is delivered only on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday? I’m thinking none. Good luck to the Press in pulling this one off.

This tax season isn’t going off totally without a hitch or two. We haven’t been able to electronically file city tax returns as yet, nor have we been able to print city returns so we can’t mail them in either.

The cities are attempting to use a Common Form this year for all city tax returns. Before the development of the Common Form, most cities created their own tax return. They all looked similar but they weren’t exactly the same. In the spirit of independence, each city’s return had its own way of dealing with the filing of income taxes. Each city has its own Income Tax Administrator, so the form reflected what the particular administrator wanted the form to look like.

For the last few years, the City of Grand Rapids has spearheaded the effort to develop the Common Form. In the long run, principally for cost-saving purposes, the idea eventually is for all cities to accept electronically filed returns. It’s much less expensive to process e-filed tax returns rather than hand processing those returns. In these difficult financial times, you have to take savings where you can find them.

For all cities to use e-filing, it would be much easier if all of the returns were submitted on one exact form: the Common Form. The software is very expensive to develop, but it will be cheaper if the software guys can develop one program that applies to all 22 different cities as opposed to one program for Grand Rapids, one program for Walker, one program for Lansing, etc.

However, there is a slight hiccup in the deal right now so we are accumulating those city returns. Hopefully, they will get the issues all ironed out soon. This is Jerry Coon signing off.

Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent. He owns Action Tax Service on Northland Drive in Rockford. Contact Jerry at www.actiontaxservice.com.

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