I was awake before the alarm went off this morning. Today is one of the two or three days of the year that I dread the most, the day I meet with my accountant and give him my 6 inch stack of paper so he can prepare my tax return.
The very idea that I should have to save these scraps of paper in my tax shoe box all year, then pay my guy $750 bucks to construct my 50 page return galls me like nothing else in this world. Less you think I’m some 1% billionaire, think again. I am only a reasonably successful small business owner. However, because of the complexities of the tax scheme under which we labor, I began employing accountants over 25 years ago to fight my battles for me. When I sign off on the thick volume of forms, schedules, and summaries that he produces, something inside me becomes enraged. Why should I be forced to do this? How can filing taxes have become such an arcane exercise so hopelessly beyond the capabilities of mere mortals?
The worst part is I don’t even know how to help my kids file their own taxes. When you’ve had it done for you for longer than either of your children has been alive, you become worthless to them, unable to answer even the most basic of questions.
So, my meeting will go something like this:
Accountant: Ok, Doug, I see you’ve got all your receipts. Good. What kind of year did you have in 2012?
Accountant: Sorry to hear that. So, you made less money?
Me: No, a little more, which means I’ll probably lose the ability to deduct something and end up having to pay more.
Accountant: Ha! Doug, you are so funny!
Accountant: Doug, I see here that you only sent the IRS $2500 in December, not the $4000 that we had agreed on, any particular reason?
Me: A very good reason…I didn’t have enough money in my account to cover a $4000 check, so I gave them what I had.
Accountant: I see…. Well, my preliminary calculations indicate that you will probably owe a bit more this year, but it might not be too bad.
Accountant: I’ll have this return back to you in a couple of weeks.
“Not too bad” turns out to be an outrageous lie. I owe an insane amount of money to the Feds and the State. I scrape together the money and pay what I owe, since the last person on earth you want to have as a creditor is the Internal Revenue Service. I survive to fight another day.
This nation once had the stones to put a man on the moon, whip the Germans twice in 30 years, and invent Jazz, but can’t figure out how to tax its citizens in a way that doesn’t involve a 67,000 page tax code.