My failure to pick up the meaning of wording on an income tax form caused me some trouble recently.
Yo may recall that I couldn't figure out how to record a $69 long-term capital gain that was my portion of a partnership profit on the sale of a farm. c
The partnership's accountant filed with IRS a Schedule K that showed how much of the gain was allocated to each partner. Each partner's copy of Schedule K told him to report his gain on Form 4797. But Form 4797 said, "For partnership returns, enter this amount on Schedule K." So I met myself coming back.
Form 4797 also gives instructions for "all except partnership returns," but I ignored them. I was reporting a gain made from a partnership.
Thanks to Albert C. (Ace) Burley of Alexandria, Morton Raff of Chevy Chase and Richard F. Snyder of Springfield, I now know better. I should not have followed the instructions for partnerships; I should have followed the instructions for "all except partnerships" because I am not a partnership, I am an individual trying to pay the tax I owe on a profit made by a partnership.
Fortunately, our CPA sterred me in the right direction when he told me to report the $69 with my other capital gains and losses, so perhaps I will again escape being sentenced to prison for tax fraud. Nevertheless, I think the episode tends to corroborate what millions of Americans have been saying for many years: Congress has given us tax laws that are so complicated that even congressmen do not understand them and cannot spell out precisely what they require of us.