Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy Tax Deadline Day!

Happy tax day! Hopefully, you weren't one of the million citizens of this great nation to put off filing your taxes this year, but if you are, have fun for the next eight hours trying to track down the right form because your stupidhead printer won't print the stupid PDF file because Adobe feels like updated for like the tenth time today and WHY IS MY COMPUTER LOCKED UP AGAIN AND WHY DID THE PRINTER JUST PRINT THAT THING I TRIED TO PRINT TWO MONTHS AGO BUT COULDN'T GET IT TO THAT'S IT I'M MOVING TO CANADA WHERE THEY FILE TAXES VIA MAPLE SYRUP AND STEVEN STAMKOSES.

Taxes can be a frustrating time. Not only is it an inherently cranky behavior--no one likes to be forced to pay anything, let alone under the threat of jail time or, worse, an audit--but it's not like it's easy to do. Oh, sure, they call it the 1040 EZ, but I suspect the "EZ" is like how it's called "Cheez Whiz" even though it is neither Cheese nor whiz.

OK, actually, it's not that bad. If you're a schlub like me, whose deductions and investments are mostly in the form of various generations of Beanie Babies (OBO!) it's not much beyond simple arithmetic with a dash of Choose Your Own Adventure-style chart lookups. Actually, that's not a bad idea.

You encounter a secret passageway! To enter the door, turn to page 56 on Table a13 under "Real Estate Amortization" and cross-reference with your current income range. To pass it by, file an extension by April 15th.

It would make tax time a lot more fun, in any case.

Still, it can be quite bewildering. It's not just taxes, of course; it's the fact that there are state and local and federal taxes and they all tax different things and they all have different instructions--and that's not counting the myriad of property, state, and sales taxes you might have to deal with.

I won't lie; there's a certain level of nostalgia when it comes to doing taxes. Back in the day when I was first filing my taxes (which I was doing while they were fighting the Kaiser and inventing the forward pass) I would sit in a dark room, surrounded by calculators and sharpened pencils. There was a lot of erasing and cursing and chart-looking-upping, but in the end it was an admittedly odd satisfactory experience. Contrast that to today, where you can punch a bunch of numbers into an application on the computer, and within minutes you not only have a disappointing answer as to your refund amount, but a dozen Romanian hackers have bought ski vacations in Zurich with your social security number. If I'm going to get screwed by basic math, I want to work over it, not have some dime-store Turing machine tell me the sad amount of my return.

A discussion about taxes wouldn't be complete without complaining about what our taxes are being spent on. We won't get into it now--if we strung up all the things people objected about what the feds cut checks for, we'd probably cover the entire budget--but, still, even if the government is covering your favorite program they are probably doing it in the least efficient and more obtuse manner possible. It's like trying to pour a jar of spaghetti sauce into a pot by flinging it, one spoonful at a time, from a hundred yards away. Yeah, you're getting some in there, and technically you're doing it in roughly a valid way, but holy hell someone just needs to walk over there and sort it out and make everyone happy except the spoon flinger.

Of course, in the end, we all know we have to do it. You can delay all you want, but on April 15th, you've got to have those forms in the mail. Still, there's a sense of relief over the whole ordeal, because, as we all know, it can be a very taxing ordeal.
You've encountered a painfully obvious pun even fifth graders think is stupid! To pretend you never heard it, turn to page 128-A and enter your current household income less your dignity. To accept it and move on with your life, put this book down and go to the state store.

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