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Friday, April 15, 2011

TurboTax Insists Users Have Middle Name -- Or You Can't E-File

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge uncle_sam_taxes.jpg

Relax! While April 15 is, traditionally, known as Tax Day, you have until Monday to get this thing done. (This, conveniently, will provide one more answer to the query, "Why is this night different from all other nights?").

But if you're hoping to e-file and you have no middle name, you may be in for a frustrating weekend.

Your humble narrator e-filed last night, but a vexing bug in this year's edition of TurboTax nearly made that impossible. The program insists users fill out each and every field in the tax forms prior to filing electronically, which is sensible enough. This poses a problem, however, for those of us with only two names.

Again and again, TurboTax refused to allow the documents to be sent to the government, because I had ostensibly failed to complete the form. Doing your taxes is onerous enough without a computer program invalidating your parents' decision to name you after a deceased grandfather who also had no middle name. And while typing "O" in the box would, amusingly, give me the initials JOE, a less blatant fabrication just transformed Barry Bonds into a convicted felon.

Vexed, I managed to find an online forum of enraged TurboTax users with no middle names. A number of them simply took the opportunity to bitch and moan. But one woman posed a solution. It was a stupid solution for an even more stupid problem -- but it worked. Those of you who have put off e-filing and have no middle name, take note.

Rather than categorizing your failure to enter any text into the field "middle initial" as "no entry" -- which is impermissible -- simply enter it as "APT." That is, your apartment number. For some reason, the program accepts this -- and the government has accepted my taxes.

Wonder what Uncle Sam's middle name is?

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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