They say the two certainties of life are death and taxes. I’ve already previously touched on the subject of death, so I guess it’s only fitting I should now discuss the topic of taxes and what better time than the month of April when tax season is in full swing. This time of year I can’t help but feel pretty darn special. Although I have been married to my lovely wife for almost 27 years (yes, I did the math to be absolutely sure since I am writing about taxes and not the death of me) it is still nice to be wanted by someone else. Uncle Sam wants me bad! He wants me to file a federal income tax return, and he insists that I do it very soon. I have heard the argument our government cannot legally force its citizens to pay taxes, so some people choose not to submit a return. I don’t know how true that is because I’m too lazy to do the research, but I do know there are some people sitting in prison for tax evasion, so common sense tells me not to take the chance.
Ever since I was a pimply teenager, earning a paycheck from McDonald’s, I have usually completed the annual tax returns on my own. Call me crazy, I’m sure many people do, but I used to actually enjoy the whole process of filing a return. Gathering pertinent information, organizing numerous receipts, and even filling out all of the forms was kind of fun. The thrill of figuring my own taxes has significantly worn off with the increase in not only the number of forms to fill out but also with the difficulty of trying to comprehend them. Being self-employed for most of our working years, and dabbling in the stock market has only complicated matters. Each year we typically have to file Schedules A,B,C,D,E, and SE, as well as Form 8949. One recent year when my wife was an employee at a salon the owner wrongfully, yet purposefully, claimed her as an independent contractor so she wouldn’t owe as much in taxes. We were forced to dispute the claim by filling out Form SS-8. We did win the case, of course, because we had right on our side.
This year I thought I might have to include Form 8903 which had an attachment number of 143. Really? Attachment #143? You have got to be kidding me! I don’t know exactly how many attachments are possible for a single tax return, again with the laziness, but I am quite aware there should be an easier way for completing them. Like most other things in my life I am very “old school” when it comes to doing my taxes. I still fill out the forms by hand, instead of electronically, and then send them to the Internal Revenue Service via snail-mail. I figure I’m doing my part in helping to keep the United States Postal Service open for business. I also find the “old school” way more convenient by affording me the luxury of viewing both the instructions and the forms at the same time. It is so much easier than having to click back and forth from one to the other on a computer screen. I am constantly hounded by everyone wanting me to do everything through the internet, and the I.R.S. is no exception. I am aware eventually I probably will not have a choice in the matter, that’s what routinely happens with the advancement in technology, but for now I will joyfully continue not banking, paying bills, or filing my tax returns on-line.
However, I do somewhat have a choice in how my tax dollars are spent by who I vote for at the polls. The two major political parties of this country sure do talk a lot about taxes, and even though they differ fundamentally on the amounts and the methods of taxation the truth as I know it is I can always count on them to eagerly spend my money on their agendas. I honestly do not mind paying the government my fair share of taxes, but surely there is a much better and less complicated way of doing so. The one time I made a mistake on my federal tax return the I.R.S. sent me a kind letter stating they had made a correction because they had found an additional deduction I could have taken which then increased the amount of my refund for that year. If Uncle Sam knows my financial situation, even better than myself, then why not simply either send me the dang refund check, or the bill for the amount I owe, instead of placing a giant heap of unnecessary stress on me every April.
A wise woman, my wife’s Grandma Proctor, once said that receiving a refund check from the government at year’s end was not good business sense because that money was rightfully ours to begin with, and they were only using it to their benefit for the entire past year. As much as we used to look forward to the delight of receiving an annual refund check I thought Grandma Proctor’s logic made perfect sense, so now we usually have to make a payment at the year’s end. Considering the aforementioned two certainties of life (death and taxes) I suppose paying taxes is better than the alternative…but not by much.