Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Taxes: A Love Story

Once upon a time, a man and a woman decided that the time was right, so they picked a date and hunkered down to do their taxes.  Because each of them disdained the sheer burden of collecting, figuring, and understanding the endless forms associated with the process, the man and woman both knew that the evening was no longer theirs, but belonged to that unpleasant task. 

After a significant amount of confusion, they were finally able to determine that last year’s tax return software – originally purchased because their previously long-term paid tax preparer had not filed their returns until August two years before despite his repeated claims that the paperwork had been submitted – did not work for this year’s returns. Relying on that old adage, they read the instructions, s l o w l y, and were verily, if not merrily, on their way.

Were you to listen in that night, here’s what you may have heard: “W-2s, income: check.”  “Well, what the hell is that piece of paper leftover?”  “What’s a 1099-B?” “If we go back, will it undo everything we’ve spent the last hour entering?” “Hit ‘No’!” “Hit ‘No’!”  “What is the cost basis for this number?  Better still, what is a cost basis?” “Who authorized that?”  “When did we buy those?” “What are dates on the charity pick ups?” “What do they mean by ‘other taxes’?” “Is that tax-deductible?” “Don’t we get something for the kids?” “Just click ‘Continue’ and let’s get on with it.”

For the most part, they viewed it simply as a distasteful necessity.

Then it hit: Screen after screen.  Green tax breaks? Presidential campaign donation? Cash for Clunkers? Stimulus Information Center? Proof of acceptable health insurance??


In case you can’t read this picture of the
screen, allow me to print its greeting here. 

Good news.  Based on the health insurance information you provided, you don’t have to worry about any tax penalties for Stephen.  Your 2009 tax return will not be affected by the state’s law requiring health insurance because Stephen had health insurance all year.  [Are you ready for that the rest of you non-Massachusetts Americans?]

Based on experience, the couple knew the frustration, the compounding anger that was in store for them.  Nothing, however, could have prepared the wife for the husband’s slow, but steady transformation from a well-mannered, good-natured intelligent man into a raving, cussin’ malcontent gesticulating wildly at each new screen!  The persistence of his unexpected descent into untoward behavior made her laugh.  It made him laugh.  While they shared a very real disdain for what they were required to do, his ridiculously misplaced rails against an inanimate software program designed to make their lives easier – and, really, it did make things easier – were a welcomed relief.

More importantly, they understood that it was not the loss of earned money, but the loss of principle exhibited by the ever-expanding state that fomented their anger. They knew that they had at their disposal better ways to fight this immoral growth of government and that they were using them. They recognized and appreciated that while the best accounting practices were not among either of their skill sets, it needn’t have been.  Together they shared the ideas and ideals that made life wonderful.

And then, after three hours, he hit “submit” and the evening's unpleasant task was over – which is ironic given that they returned to their pleasant evening with a newly-steeled determination to never submit.

4 comments:

Sandi Trixx said...

Wow - sounds just like my Saturday afternoon(s)! I started by using TaxAct like I do every year, a few weekends ago, and discovered that our refund was $3000 less than last year. Nothing had changed too much, we expected to get a little less, so the software must be crazy (which I concluded after several obscene outbursts - I ask my wife to give me plenty of alone time for my ranting). So this past Saturday I tried TurboTax online and expected different results. I got them, but this time we owed money! What?!? How is it possible that by entering the exact same information I got two different answers? So after another obscenity laden afternoon, I will go with the original, pathetically small, return. We spent the evening at a wonderful saloon listening to a man play the piano. That was bliss!

Lynne said...

Happily, we wasted only Sunday night. If your return/what you owe is small, then you're doing it right. Suddenly having the money to upgrade from a V6 to a V8 in my new car, to be purchased soon, is no reason to lend the government so much of our money during the year!

Beside that, the car I really wanted but can't afford, the Shelby, has a "***gas guzzler tax***." Oddly, this made me want it more.

Kim said...

Wonderful!

Lynne said...

Just makin' lemonade out of. . . well, frankly, a bunch of #$%^&^% tax rules.