It’s that time again. Time to set up the folding card table in the living room, sharpen the pencils, gather the 1099s, consume a few pots of coffee, and dive into the process we all know and don’t love: Filing your taxes!
Americans have come to accept this process as a right of passage for living in this great country, but for some of us it’s still a pretty overwhelming and intimidating event. In fact, I really don’t know anyone who looks forward to this annual occasion except maybe accountants and the IRS. Both make a pretty penny from the whole ordeal and I bet some individuals even get downright giddy about all of the number-crunching.
Not me! I’d rather be crunching a bag of chips or simply watching paint dry. No matter how many years I’ve gone through this process, every time it’s the same thing. Dread. Dismay. Despair. And downloading data until I’m blue in the face. And here’s a question for you. Anybody else wondering why the popular program people use to do their taxes is called Quicken? Personally, I didn’t find it to be too quick. But then again, perhaps that’s because I hadn’t downloaded any data since 12/31/04. And let me tell you, what a difference a year makes! When I started downloading my 2005 data it was January and there was a blanket of snow covering the ground. By the time I finished, it was March and the daffodils were popping up like H&R Block offices during this time of year.
I really don’t know how I became the “chosen one” for this miserable task. It’s definitely not because I’m the financial whiz of this marriage. I mean, c’mon. I’m a writer and everybody knows that creative people use the non-tax filing side of their brain for their creativity. This is also clearly the reason I switched my major in college from accounting to communications after my third semester. I mean, what was I thinking?
What’s even more ironic is the fact that my husband works for a software company that generates 1099s and other tax forms for brokerage firms and banks, so it’s obvious who wears the financial pants in this family. But here’s the thing. Because of my husband’s job, during the height of tax season he is in such high demand making sure all of these forms are produced without a glitch that he is literally putting in 80- to 100-hour weeks. Obviously, it’s not his favorite time of the year either. So, what does that mean? It means he’s exhausted and I get the honor of doing our taxes.
I guess that’s OK. I suppose I can “take one for the team.” After all, I did promise, “for better or for worse.” So what’s a floundering financial housewife supposed to do? Pass the buck! Since I strongly believe you should let the professionals do what they do best, it makes sense to let an accountant file our taxes. Sure, an accountant costs more than the latest version of Turbo Tax, but in my mind, it’s worth every penny. I mean, one person’s write-off could be another person’s red flag to the IRS screaming, “Please audit me.” And with my luck, if I filed our taxes the IRS would be banging on my door waving a sea of red flags prepared to perform the nation’s longest audit ever. No, thanks. I’ll gladly hand over the reins to my trusty CPA.
The good news … we’re getting a refund back from Uncle Sam. The bad news … well, Ben Franklin said it best. “In this world the only things that are certain are death and taxes.”
Hmmmmm. Suddenly, I love taxes!
Kathryn Mahoney is a local humor columnist and author of “Cracked at Birth: One Madcap Mom’s Thoughts on Motherhood, Marriage & Burnt Meatloaf.” To contact her, please visit her Web site at www.crackedatbirth.com.