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Computer programmer/systems analyst slays tax returns | News | pressrepublican.com – Plattsburgh Press Republican

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Updated: October 5, 2022 @ 3:34 am

Staff Writer
CHAZY — Marcia LaPierre spent 40 years as a computer programmer/systems analyst.
“I retired from SUNY Plattsburgh,” the Chazy resident said.
“I had a variety of jobs. I worked there for 11 years, and I retired in 2009. Computers were not where they are today back then. Very different. Very different. I went to school to learn how to do computer programming. It doesn’t exist anymore. Concord Commercial College in Manchester, N.H.”
LaPierre graduated from the certificate program in 1968.
Of her class of 12, three were women.
“It was unusual,” she said.
“Most people don’t realize how male-oriented it was back then. Most employers have become more understanding that women can think with an analytical mind just as well as men.”
Y2K
LaPierre relocated to Chazy when she took her first computer programming job with what was then Ayerst Laboratories.
“I married a local, and we moved away,” she said.
“We were away for about 27 years, and we moved back here in 1998 and I became part of the Y2K team at SUNY Plattsburgh because they were afraid all the computers were going to crash in the year 2000. That was a big thing.”
TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY
This year, LaPierre celebrates 20 years as a Volunteer Tax Preparer with AARP Foundation Tax-Aide.
She started working at Tax Aide six or seven years before she retired.
“Obviously, I was not doing a huge amount in the beginning just because I worked full-time,” she said.
‘I was one of those people who went in early and left early in the afternoon, so had late afternoon and early evening hours available. The program was much smaller back then. It was interesting.”
LaPierre had always prepared her own tax returns, her husband’s, her kids’ and other relatives’.
“I had been monitoring a blog thing about income taxes, and there was a fellow who posted there frequently who really pushed the Tax-Aide program and encouraged people to volunteer. After a while, I decided to look into it, submitted my my name and got a call from the local person who was running it at that point in time. I started doing taxes.”
Tax-Aide processes personal tax returns.
“Congress does a good job of changing the tax law every year,” she said.
“Some years, it’s more difficult than others. We don’t do any businesses. So that’s a lot of the tax laws regarding taxes for businesses. We only do personal tax returns, so the scope isn’t humongous as a paid-tax preparer may run into.”
“We learn together as a group. We work a lot together. Sometimes, one person knows more about like retirement accounts and another person knows tax free interests or different kinds of interests. So, we kind of back each other up. I find that to be one of the strong points of the program. We don’t all consider ourselves to be individual tax preparers. We are a group of tax preparers.”
Tax preparation is a life skill in her estimation.
“That more people should be interested in learning for themselves because if you have a reasonable income, which most people do, you’re going to file a tax return for the rest of your life even if you live to be over 100 years old,” she said.
“Having some background in it I think is a good thing for anybody. I wish they taught it in school, at least the basics, you don’t have to go into all the fine tuning things. I think that not enough people realize, for their own personal return, it is probably not as complicated as they might think.”
The biggest challenge is returns should be done on a computer.
“Therefore, particularly older people, don’t have the capability of doing it on a computer,” she said.
“I hear people every year who say, ‘I’m going to do my own return, and I’m going to mail it in. Where do I get the forms?’ Well, you can only get the forms online.”
PAPER BACKLOG
As of early September, the IRS had a backlog of 7 million paper tax returns from prior years that had not yet been processed.
“The electronic ones are all processed quickly,” she said.
“But the ones on paper, somebody’s got to open the mail and do the return. With the pandemic particularly, they fell way, way, way behind. They are talking about catching up, but I don’t know how they’re going to do that. I mean I wouldn’t want to be looking at 7 million tax returns. Many of them are amended because amended returns have to be on paper. So filing a paper return today, it’s really not a good idea.”
‘GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT’
LaPierre, 72, will be a digit older before the tax season starts.
“I think it’s a life skill like teaching kids how to write a check,” she said.
“The checks are kind of going away, but I think they’re going to be around I think for a long time yet. I know they don’t always teach those kinds of skills in the school. I know a lot of people use Turbo Tax or whatever. I think it’s great, what I used to use years ago. But if you don’t understand what you need to put into the computer, you are not going to get the right answer out.
“We always said garbage in, garbage out. That was our programming motto was. Just knowing enough to do your own return is I think is a good thing and understanding the basics of how to do income tax. A lot of people try and do their own, and unfortunately we can’t fix them once they’ve done them wrong.”
Email: rcaudell@pressrepublican.com
Twitter@RobinCaudell
PLATTSBURGH — AARP Foundation has kicked off volunteer recruitment for its Tax-Aide program,…
Staff Writer
Robin Caudell was born and raised on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She holds a BS in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She has worked at the Press-Republican since 1990
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