"Let me tell you how it will be,
Just one for you nineteen for me."
Who was it that thought up the cockamamie timing of taxes? What kind of sick, sadistic person would think that just when the earth is waking up from its long winter slumber and we are anxious to climb out from our hibernation, we would welcome the opportunity to spend the better part of a day, or two or even three, mired in our W-4’s, 1099’s and mortgage interest statements?
Saturday was tax day in our house. I cut it close this year, that procrastination thing rearing its ugly head. There’s nothing worse than watching the calendar tick down and feel the pressure build. From the moment those W-4’s arrive in late January the clock begins. The tax software appears en mass at Costco. Even driving my son to baseball practice is tough. Standing on the street corner a smaller, human version of the Statue of Liberty, clad in polyester robes, waves at unsuspecting motorists like me who have waited until the absolute last moment to file the multitude of forms required for this arduous task. I duck down, sliding lower in the seat hoping to avoid their stare while inside the Italian Catholic guilt that rests not quite below the surface awakens.
No tax preparer for me. I’m one of those people who think that it is simple enough to do myself and, with the advent of the online programs, it actually is. It’s not the complexity that bugs me. It’s just that I have to do it at all.
At 5:45 a.m., I was already in “tax mode”. I pulled out the bulging file of receipts and began the piles, sorting out 2007 as though it were a basket of mismatched socks looking for long lost mates that were likely under the bed or in the backseat of the car or worse yet, not to be found at all. I made a quick breakfast of pancakes and bacon, fed the family and then got back to work lest I lose my “enthusiasm” for the task at hand. Imports, exports, W4s, 1099s, interest income, and Schedule Cs filled my brain as I entered information in little blue boxes, keeping an eye on the number in the right hand corner. Red was not good, I was striving for green.
Outside the sun was shining. Inside, I was trying to figure out why I was paying tax on my refund from last year. Wasn’t it my money in the first place? Even the radio DJ got into the act, filling his afternoon show with song after song about taxes. Who knew there were so many?
One more click and it was done. And then, I looked up. The day was gone. Running late, I jumped into the car to pick up my youngest from baseball practice. Standing on the corner by the field, the “Statue of Liberty” waved to me. And looking her right in the eye, this time, I waved back.