Yes, It's Tax Day and You're Still Doing Returns for Your Adult Children

Date : 04/16/2018 @ 3:34PM
Source : Dow Jones News

Yes, It's Tax Day and You're Still Doing Returns for Your Adult Children

By Katherine Bindley 

Every spring like clockwork, Bridget Cusick receives a package from her father. This year, she opened it to find two manila envelopes, stamped and pre-addressed; one to New York state; one to the Internal Revenue Service. Her address was written in the top left-hand corners. There were forms, too: three stacks, held together by paper clips. A Post-it note stuck to one said, "your copies."

"It's very turnkey for me," says Ms. Cusick. "He puts little sticky arrows that say, 'sign here.' "

Ms. Cusick is 42 and the director of marketing with the Archdiocese of New York. She has never done her taxes. Her 74-year-old dad, a retired attorney from Barron, Wis., does them for her.

"It's not like I don't think I could learn how to do it," she says. "But if my dad legitimately seems to enjoy doing it and it saves me time, why not?"

"He enjoys it." "She's good at it." Such is the party line of adults who still have their accounting needs handled by their parents. This includes Ms. Cusick's younger brother and his wife, who receive a packet of their own each spring.

"I think about it every year when the time comes around, that it's probably a skill that I should have learned," says Patrick Cusick, who works in marketing and lives in La Crosse, Wis. "I don't really know why he hasn't been like, 'Son, you need to learn to do your taxes cause you're 34 years old.' "

Their father, David Cusick, says having them learn on their own makes him nervous. "I'm just kind of concerned that they'll make a mistake and then have the IRS bugging them," he says.

Christian Hadley, 24, works at a hospital in environmental services. His mother has done his taxes for several years. She uses some kind of website or a program. It might be TurboTax or H&R Block. He's not sure.

"When it's tax time, she'll spend hours at the computer with her calculator," he says. "We don't talk to her during that week because she's a little grouchy."

Mr. Hadley, who lives in Crystal City, Mo., thinks his mother enjoys doing taxes -- she's a "math person" -- but he plans to learn to do his own in the next year.

Tawnya Hadley, 47, who works as an accounting specialist at a bank and used H&R Block software for her two sons' taxes and those of her married daughter, says she is probably going to continue doing them. "I love taxes," she says, noting she also did her and her husband's return. "I did them and they were perfect and I was so proud of myself."

Meredith Hirt, 26, writes for a market research firm in Manhattan. Her father does her taxes. She feels no motivation to change that.

"I think the return on investment for me learning how to do it wouldn't be worth it, because I have someone who is willing to do it," she says.

Her father, Joe Hirt, 63, who works as an engineering manager and lives in Chesapeake, Ohio, also does his 33-year-old daughter's taxes. "I'm doing something for my fully able daughters, and, as a parent, I just get a kick out of it," he says. "They still need me for something."

Any resentment he feels is directed at the state of New York, not his children. He says the state's tax website doesn't carry information over from one form to the next. Both daughters have at times taken on second or third jobs, which means entering Social Security numbers and addresses over and over on multiple forms. "I just hate it," he says.

Dave Scarangella, a former sales and marketing executive from Ashburn, Va., admits he and his friends complain about their children's taxes, but it is just for show.

"We secretly like it," says Mr. Scarangella, 61. "We would be very sad if a year came along and we were no longer doing them."

This year, Amanda Scarangella, who will be 23 this month, said she wanted to learn to do her taxes. The two sat down at the computer.

"Once we start the process, after about five minutes, she goes to visit her mother and they find a movie to watch," Mr. Scarangella says.

Ms. Scarangella admits it but insists she will do her taxes next year. "I really value being independent and being able to take care of myself, " she says.

Korin Reid, 31, who lives in Atlanta and works as a data scientist, could do her taxes. "In second grade, I made spreadsheets, before TurboTax," she says. "I fully know how to do them."

Only Ms. Reid doesn't do them. Her dad, John Reid, an actuary in Carmel, Ind., does her taxes, along with those of her sister and her sister's husband. ("It not a pain at all," Mr. Reid says, but enjoy? Not exactly.)

Ms. Reid reasons that her time is better spent on work. "I'm building artificial intelligence," she says. "I would rather be improving health care than to be doing something mundane like taxes."

Sid Bloom, 78, a former IBM systems engineer who lives in a Philadelphia suburb, still does his daughter Sarah's taxes. She's 48.

"I really don't want to know all this information," he says. "It's TMI to know exactly what she's making and what she's not."

Mr. Bloom's daughter is a self-employed photographer. Years ago, he told her she had to hire someone. She did -- but her dad didn't like the results.

"They didn't do the proper expenses for the home office the way it should have been done," says Mr. Bloom.

Since then, he has been sitting with his daughter, teaching her. He's confident she knows what she's doing.

Ms. Bloom says she doesn't know what she's doing.

"It's very easy to zone out," she says. "I'm typing in the amounts and I'm moving the mouse, but he's telling me what to do. It's a little bit of an illusion."

Ms. Bloom says last month her mother told her she has to learn to do both of their taxes this year, in case Mr. Bloom passes away first.

"I said, well, he can't ever die basically. He's not allowed," Ms. Bloom says.

Now, Mr. Bloom does Ms. Bloom's 22-year-old daughter's taxes. "She makes her own appointment with him," Ms. Bloom says.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 16, 2018 11:19 ET (15:19 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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