Betty Duffy

(Amateur)

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Like To Do My Taxes.

Taxes are one of life’s surprising, and possibly perverse little pleasures for me. Beginning at the new year, I enjoy collecting the required documents, checking them off as they arrive in the mail: forms 1040, 1099, DIV, INT, mortgage interest, deductible contributions. They all sound so important, so official, and I feel a certain satisfaction in knowing what each document means, and where exactly I should apply it. If I need confirmation that I’m a grown-up, this is it. I pay my taxes.

I’ve always liked to think of myself as a Math Person because of my straight A’s in Calculus in the eleventh grade. My husband, however, thinks that it is immoral to refer to myself as a Math Person when I have to use my fingers to figure the sum of 7 and 8, and I have not committed another singular act of calculus since I graduated from high school.

But it is with pleasure that once a year, I remove my contacts, put on my granny glasses, and hover over my desk sorting through envelopes and receipts and making calculations (calculations not of Calculus, but with a calculator). I get out my Pilot precise V5 extra fine rolling ball pen, and write numbers in little boxes.

My husband yells from the other room, “You aren’t overlooking any deductions, are you?” He has not filled out a tax form since before we were married, a 1040EZ.

“You bring home the bacon,” I say, “But may I please fry it?” (which is not to say I’m cooking the books). There’s nothing EZ about what I’m doing. This is the big-time, the 1040 not-EZ. There are itemizations and forms to attach. We have investments and dividends and losses, and child tax credits, and additional child tax credits, and I want to say, “Don’t speak of deductions, Dear. There are formulas to apply, and a deduction, is never just a deduction.”

I read the instructions every year, all one hundred and something pages of them. I ask myself, “Am I blind? Over the age of 65?” and then check the appropriate boxes. I insert numbers into formulas, and new numbers come out, beautiful, dependable numbers.

And then they are finished, in one sweet little night, when our family rakes in a tidy sum that says, “It’s good to have children.” And I feel gratified that we have not once taken advantage of the government’s generosity with the public school system, or public trash collection. We have never been on any doles. We pay our taxes, we make charitable contributions, and then, because we earn our board and keep, we get most of it back. I am satisfied that there is order and justice in the Universe.

This may seem a little anticlimactic, my zeal for this annual ritual. So may I suggest that you picture me saying what I’m about to say with eyebrows elevated, with tap shoes and jazz hands? It’s this: “I like taxes!” and with a whispering flourish: “Yeah!”

18 comments:

Melanie B said...

I haven't done taxes since I've been married; but I do remember feeling a certain satisfaction in sitting down with those forms.

Still, I think there's something a bit perverse about your paean to doing taxes.

BettyDuffy said...

It's wrong, I know.

kathy said...

I kind of like it too...though I'm with Melanie, I don't think I'd compose such an ode...

Smoochagator said...

I like doing my taxes, too, but I am not as thorough or as careful as you are! This is such a fun little post.

BettyDuffy said...

Thanks Smoochagator. I was starting to feel like a real turd-- therapy maybe even.

Smoochagator said...

Not a turd! It's very satisfying to get all your ducks in a row and be rewarded handsomely for your efforts. However, I enjoyed tax time MUCH LESS the year that I messed up my withholding and ended up owing $1400 to the IRS. Yikes! Maybe that's why I have so much fun now that I kind of understand what I'm doing.

Janet in Toronto said...

I'm mathy too, and understand your secret pleasure in doing taxes. My husband worships my tax-ability and has not had to do any in the 26 years we've been married.

I'm not happy about the time-sink, but the actual process, the organization, the thinking, appeals to some deeply held instinct inside me. And when you're done? That wonderful feeling? Priceless!

Christy P. said...

Looking forward to doing my taxes this weekend...I like most any kind of survey.

mrsdarwin said...

I've never done the taxes since we were married, but I do pay the bills each month, and there's a similar tidy feeling to balancing the checkbook and ticking off each bill in my handy bill-pay calendar (a real spiral-bound calendar, not an online version).

Betty Beguiles said...

I start looking forward to tax season in November. I love doing our taxes. That could change if we ever find ourselves members of the upper class but as that is highly unlikely, I look forward to many more years of tax season joy. :)

Emily J. said...

Maybe you meant jazz hands + "I love tax refunds!"? = a paycheck of sorts for all that tidy work.

Darwin said...

Wow. And here I'd thought that doing taxes was apportioned to the husband by one of those laws of nature which grants us the scooping of the litter box, the killing of creatures with many legs, and the taking of the trash cans out to the curb, but spares us the midnight nursing sessions and the arranging of little girls' hair.

Though I cheat by using tax preparation software.

Some day, when I decide that I am "well off" I shall do two things:

Join Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and get a tax accountant. Then when people ask me questions, I'll wave my hand airily and reply, "I don't know. I'll have to ask my tax man. Would you like some Scotch?"

Smoochagator said...

Darwin, in my house I kill the creatures with many legs because my husband is deathly afraid of spiders. Okay, maybe afraid is not the right word. Aversive, maybe? But he does clean the litter box.

TXMom2B said...

I love doing taxes, too! But I'm really impressed that you do it by hand. I buy the $37 tax software and wouldn't know where to start if I had to use a calculator. I, too, love getting the documents ready. I have all our expenses for the year on a spreadsheet and genuinely get giddy when it's time to go.

Milehimama said...

Love this post! I love how you describe the formulas, and getting dependable numbers. That's exactly how I feel about (uh, basic) algebar. So tidy. So dependable.

BettyDuffy said...

Good point Betty Beguiles! I would not like tax season half as much if I had to write a check at the end. Probably why I get the federals done as quickly as possible and put off the state and local.

I've always sort of wanted to have my taxes done by a pro, just to compare and make sure I'm doing them right.

Anne said...

Do you have an H&R Block where you live? I always do my own taxes by hand and enjoy it as well, but then take it to the experts. They double check my work, point out any errors, and they do it for free! Such a deal! TaDa!

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I am full of admiration for you math ladies.

I am so not a math person! I go deer-in-the-headlights in the presence of numbers. So I use a tax guy.