The crocuses are croaking, the daffodils are in full display, the temperature is on the rise. All of these events are harbingers of the onset of spring, the second and—for many of us—the most anticipated of the four seasons. But, along with the warmer and longer days comes another occurrence, one just as punctual as its natural counterpart, but carrying with it as much anxiety and negativity as one can imagine. That is April 15th, or, as it is better known: Tax Day.
Every year, we watch the calendar and shudder with fear as the mandatory “day of obligation” draws near. It’s almost as if the powers that be which created the artificial deadline for paying our taxes had done so with a quintessential sense of irony. How unfair that just as our most anticipated season is arriving, we also feel the oppressive specter of our annual appointment with the government agency we’ve learned to hate so much.
So, it was with heavy heart that on Friday I sat down after breakfast and began the arduous task of sorting, tallying, and entering all those figures (some real, some imagined) into a meaningful semblance of order, in preparation for filing my income tax return. For most of my adult life I have prepared my own taxes, except for a brief period when I owned a small business and employed an accountant. I’m proud to say that only once in more than 50 years have I been audited by the IRS. To this day, my wife attributes that little hiccup along the fiscal highway to my previous failed relationship with an agent of the fabled tax agency, whom she contends was merely seeking romantic retribution. (I’m less skeptical, and chalk it up to the statistical inevitability of a self-employed individual being more likely to be audited than one employed by a large company.)
All day Friday, I toiled, checking and rechecking my addition, subtraction, multiplication, and “illegal substitutions”—mostly in the guise of donations to “causes” with specious tax deductibility. Satisfied I had left no stone unturned, I went to sleep that night confident that everything was in place for the big event: the actual filing of my return.
Saturday morning arrived, and I catapulted out of bed, fed the cats, and headed straight to my computer. I logged on to the Turbo Tax site, took a deep breath, and made my first entry. Oh, did you really think I was going with the old pencil and paper routine? Perish the thought. After all, this is the 21st Century, and I am a full-fledged participant. If you’ve never used such a service, I highly recommend it. If nothing else, it imbues its users with a false sense of confidence that more than offsets the anxiety most of us feel when faced with the annual task of preparing our return. The cost is negligible, but the peace of mind it provides is more than worth it.
Three hours and hundreds of key strokes later, I was nearly done and almost ready to hit the button that said “File.” With trembling fingers, I “signed” my wife’s and my names electronically and stared at the screen. Slowly, my right index finger approached the keyboard. Sweat dripped from my brow and tumbled onto the keys. Then, like an osprey diving toward the water to impale its prey, I struck. In a few seconds, the message I craved to see appeared on the screen. “You have successfully filed your return.”
Instantly, a sense of relief washed over me. I could breathe again. Outside my window, a bird chirped. Sunlight burst through the clouds and the wind chimes on my back deck began to peal. It was the best of times and the worst of times. Okay, you get the picture. It was over—at least for another eleven and a half months.
Oh, are we receiving a refund? Well, let’s just say that that’s something that’s just between me and my computer.
Am I ready for spring? You betcha! Bring it on.