Sunday, March 07, 2010

Tax-time gripes

California Use-Tax

It's really not reasonable for me to try to add up all the money I've spent online (but only on items used in California, not those purchased as gifts to someone out of state.) This is the largest expenditure for me outside of rent and travel, and I don't remember everything I've bought and from where. and searching for "receipt" in gmail helps, but it's really a lost cause. I do my best, but it seems most people I talk to don't bother, despite it being the law. This is by far the most time-consuming part of filing my return, and only hurts me to do so.
A few things confuse me about it.
  1. Is shipping and handling included in the taxable portion? It's not "used" in California.
  2. Do online retailers have enough information themselves that they could provide some sort of automated assistance in tallying these?
  3. Have the courts decided whether use-taxes are constitutional despite being a tax on inter-state trade?
  4. Am I a chump for bothering?
Filing my taxes inevitably involves getting data from financial institutions that I haven't had any interaction with all year, and thus, remembering my various passwords. If you are designing a password system, please don't place restrictions on the content of the password. It's your responsibility as an administrator to keep your users' passwords from being brute-forced. Do not offload this responsibility to them.
Arbitrary restrictions I've seen today alone while trying to get forms from various financial agencies:
  • Must have at least 1 number.
  • Must have at least 2 numbers.
  • Must have at least one capital letter and 1 number.
  • Cannot have special characters.
  • Must be greater than 6 characters, but no more than 15.
  • Must be greater than 6 characters but no more than 8.
If I can't have a small secure set of passwords to use everywhere that I can reasonably remember, I'm just going to email them to myself, thus defeating every high-minded security best practice you are trying to implement.