“The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.” —Mark Twain
Today is tax day. It is no shock that this day of reckoning is finally here. For months, I have been preparing spreadsheets filled with columns of numbers that mean nothing to me, contemplating potential deductions, and collecting stacks of tiny little receipts in order to provide the government with a legitimate record of my income and expenses for the past twelve months.
I recently met with my accountant who immediately started our conversation by stating, “I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want first?” I folded my hands in my lap.
Known to be wimpy when it comes to bad news, I mumbled, “Give me the good news first,” closed my eyes, and began silently reciting my annual tax prayer.
“The good news is that I have your tax return done before the deadline!” he answered as he slapped his hand on the desk and laughed heartily. The clock on his wall ticked loudly. He shuffled a few papers on his desk and cleared his throat. “The bad news is that your son turned seventeen in the last year. Therefore, you are losing his child tax credit.”
I stopped reciting my prayer, swallowed loudly, and blinked. He couldn’t be serious. My seventeen-year-old was a bottomless pit who ate more meat daily than a tiger at the zoo. I stammered, “But … but … what about his senior pictures? His cap and gown? His clothes? His … his college applications? His class ring?” My voice grew higher and higher with each question. Either my underwear was too tight or I becoming crazed, knowing that this was the time in a parent’s life when getting the teenager through the last year of high school cost more than … well … feeding a tiger at the zoo.
My accountant shook his head. “No can do,” he replied. “It’s the law.” He reached over and began quickly adding and subtracting numbers on his calculator. He calculated, calculated, and calculated some more until he could calculate no more. “Well,” he started gently, “I’ve crunched the numbers and there’s just no easy way to break this news other than to just blurt it out.”
I put my hands over my ears and began enthusiastically singing, “La, la, la,” but unfortunately, I heard him anyway.
“You owe $450,000 this year.”
The clock on his wall ticked loudly. I clenched and unclenched my fists. Desperate, I asked in a squeaky voice, “Is there any way we can deduct our dog?”
He shook his head again as he picked up my return and placed it in my hands. “There are only two sure things in the world,” he added as he ushered me out the door, “Death and taxes.”
I hated to tell him, but death was starting to look appealing.
But today, just like all the rest of America, I’m going to put on my big girl panties, suck it up, and take my return and my check for $450,000 to the post office to be mailed on time to all my good friends at the IRS. And then I will go home, feed my son ten pounds of meat, and pray that one day the rules will change so I can deduct my dog, my husband, and the neighbor’s hamster.
The middle class has always been a hopeful bunch.
By Vicky DeCoster (All Rights Reserved)