|Like millions of other Americans, especially those who run small businesses or sole proprietorships and have complicated tax returns as a result, we often file for a tax extension, which means that our deadline is next Tuesday. |
Like tens of millions of Americans, we use tax preparation software to complete our return. In our case, the historical choice has been TurboTax.
Screengrabbed from the IRS website.
Let me illustrate what I mean and why it's potentially consequential to certain software users.
|Most of the document is a true PDF in which you can search text, select text, highlight, etc.|
|See?? Searchable text, just as you'd expect with any properly-rendered PDF of an official government document. |
|Looking for the search term "SEP" confirmed many instances of the word "separate", but no instances of SEP as in Simplified Employee Pension. And that's just not right.|
|And here's why - it's because much of the actual rendered two-page 1040 (not the supporting sub-forms) is not a document - it's just an image. If you try to select specific text on it, Acrobat just draws a screengrab type of box instead of the target text becoming highlighted. And in this case, I was unable to perform OCR on the document to make this go away. |
This was tricky to discover because not all of the 1040 was image. The actual numbers on that part of the return were rendered as searchable text.
Fortunately I didn't waste more than an hour or two figuring this one out (sleeping on it was the right move). It just never occurred to me that some programmer would mix text and text image on the same danged page. That's just irregular.
And how many millions of other people have used TurboTax and yet I couldn't find a single other reference to this peculiarity on the internet that might have helped me cut to the chase?? Sheesh!! I guess that's why blogging exists.
|Happy Tax Day. But you can forget about rewarding yourself for all your hard tax deadline work by taking a breather trip to a National Park. |
Screengrabbed from this IRS page.