Thursday, February 28, 2013
A Taxing Day
My mother prepared our income taxes--and it was not ever a day I wanted to be in the house. She would assemble all our records, disappear into the study, close the door, and our dad would remind my brothers and me that we had to be quiet--all day. Totally quiet. To help out, he would sometimes pile us in the car and drive us over to the A&W Root Beer drive-in in Ravenna. Then it was back to the Cave of Silence.
When Mother emerged for meals that day, it was not wise to speak much with her. Doing so sometimes invited edged words to emerge from her mouth, words that sliced, diced, and generally drew blood. It was not funny, Tax Day, not in our house.
In my own adulthood I've never found it too amusing, either. Before I married, I just usually did the short form. Mailed it in. Paid the piper.
Later, married, I watched helplessly as our taxes grew more complicated--grad school, child, home ownership. I found myself behaving like my mother. Joyce and little Steve would disappear while I snapped, snarled, and roared at piles of paper on the dining room table. I hope they enjoyed their A&W.
The past, oh, twenty years or so I've been going to an accountant. But even that is a problem. I have to assemble everything, get it chronological, put it in categories. Just this week--Tuesday--I was with him for two hours while we went through all my printouts and receipts. This occurring, of course, after a chunk of hours I'd already spent sorting and snarling. I emerged from our meeting, as usual, feeling somewhat diminished as a human being.
I also emerged--as I do every year--bedazzled by the complexity of our tax code. When will we find the political courage to simplify the dumb thing?
Not soon, I would guess. And so more folks like my mother and me and countless others will be sequestering (bad word) themselves for the day, growling, biting, barking, writing big checks.
I don't know yet if we're going to get a refund or not. I was afraid to ask. And since he didn't tell me--or even hint--I've got a pretty good idea what he's going to say when that phone eventually rings. I'm going to hear the words, "Bring your checkbook."