Misery loves company, but it’s cold comfort that many of you – like me - still haven’t filed your 2020 income tax returns.
(And I’m aware others of you had already pre-spent your refund six months ago, but come on, dude. When you announce, “I’m anxious to revisit 2020!,” you probably need to spend part of that refund on an ensemble that matches a white straitjacket.)
Prompt filers, don’t judge your foot-dragging fellow citizens. People have the right to prioritize their time, and income tax doesn’t necessarily rate a top spot in the middle of January. Millions of good, decent Americans will tell you (a) “We’re shorthanded at work and the overtime is killing me,” (b) “Taking care of my aged parents is more urgent than a Schedule C” or (c) “Those three stockpiled seasons of ‘Real Housewives of Southeast Podunk’ aren’t going to watch themselves. Duh.”
Rushing to pay my taxes is just rushing to be reminded of my insignificance. Nothing puts you in your place like realizing that your paltry contribution to the national budget would fund three nanoseconds of a congressional junket. (“I’ll bet a year-long town fundraiser would buy enough school desks to shield us from Putin’s nuclear arsenal!”)
Even though I settle for the standard deduction, I am nonetheless intimidated by our arcane tax system. You can talk to three different IRS agents about the exact same issue and receive answers ranging from “That’s a perfectly legitimate deduction” to “That might throw up a red flag for auditors” or “That will send the earth spiraling helplessly into the hottest regions of the sun.”
Some of us take our own sweet time about filing because we’re protesting the lack of essay questions. It’s so unsatisfying to slap down the Social Security number of dependents and move on to the next task. Taxpayers yearn to express themselves with “Are you sure you don’t want to see some photos of my little Honor Roll student?” or “Yes, he’s dependent on me, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he fawns over that tramp of a stepmother...”
Okay, truth be told, I don’t necessarily aim for April 15 (or May 17 this year) as my time to get serious about taxes. My good intentions invariably fall victim to one of the ugliest words in the English language: “surely.” (“Surely, once I get my Form W-2, I can sequester myself in the den and knock this out.” “Okay, surely once Valentine’s Day folderol is finished, I’ll be able to devote my time to taxes.” “Surely, the ghost of Leslie Nielsen isn’t giving me the stink-eye for calling him Shirley...”)
Getting taxes finalized early reminds me of the Stephen King novel “11/22/63,” in which the protagonist travels back in time to stop the assassination of JFK. But history doesn’t want to be changed, so “coincidences” keep popping up to complicate his mission. Similarly, bright ideas about “Just do it!” guarantee computer crashes, ER visits and Folgers-stained documents. And now King has me wondering if there are clowns living in the sewer near H&R Block!
Hurry up and make an appointment with one of the name-brand accounting firms, before you must settle for Cletus’s Tax Preparation and Bait Shop. (“We swear you won’t be on the hook for more than ...that hussy took Bubba for on ‘Real Housewives of Southeast Podunk’...”)
Danny welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”