• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on April 14, 2009
Happy tax day everybody!
Sadly, even with the exclamation point, I just don’t think that’s going to catch on in the greeting card industry any time soon.
April 15 is here again, and the mad rush to get taxes sent out on time begins.
It’s actually kind of exciting for me this April because this is my first year doing my own taxes, and I still need to put the finishing touches on them after writing this column. (Like any good journalist, I like to push deadlines.)
My grandmother is a tax professional – an enrolled agent, as they say in the game – and has always handled my taxes for me since I started working. In fact, I’m pretty sure she still does my dad’s taxes, as well.
This year, though, as the new wife and I got settled in, we didn’t actually get around to thinking about taxes until about, oh, two weekends ago, which was far too late for me to go barking up the grandma tree during her busiest time of the year.
My wife suggested we immediately head to a local tax professional, but having never paid to have my taxes done before, I’m not about to start now. I’ll do my own taxes, thank you very much.
How hard can taxes be?
I know this is where I’m supposed to tell you a horror story, but for me and my wife, it’s actually not that tough.
She doesn’t own stocks, and like most Americans, I didn’t make any money off my stocks this year. We don’t own property or have children. We don’t have much that we write off other than interest on student loan payments. (I’m not sure if these actually ever get paid off. I’ve been giving money back to the federal government for years now, and it doesn’t seem like that initial number goes down much. Do they ever get paid off, or am I in the middle of some conspiracy I just haven’t figured out yet?)
For those without dividends, property or children, taxes are easy. Here is what you made. Here is what you paid the government. Here is what you should have paid the government. Here is your refund.
You simply follow the instructions. It’s like a color-by-numbers book, except with money.
Taking a closer look at the book, though, you quickly find out that taking care of somebody highly complicates this process. You have to start filling out extra forms and dividing numbers and figuring out exactly how many children you have.
It does not look fun.
My wife and I haven’t decided to have children yet, but if we do, I know exactly what I’m doing.
“Hi, um, Grandma …”
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