It’s tax season again! Saying this to Uncle Sam is like saying, “It’s deer season” to a hunter. Government officials are loading up while IRS agents point out the big game. Uncle Sam is so excited, he’s already spent what he’ll bag this year. And next year. And the next. I could go on, but you’ll bore if I list how many years Sam has already hocked.
Each election season, our Uncle may change his appearance, but he’s been remarkably consistent in presenting a smiling face as he gives a warm hug, and pats his people on the wallet. A few years ago, one of our Uncles inspired us with a sacrifice of pulling seventy-dollars out of his millions, and donating it to charity, and then proclaiming that we all should give our fair share. Another year, his first lady declared her used underwear as a contribution, and wrote it off her taxes. Now that’s inspiration! What more could our leaders do to show their intimate care of the American people, than to share their undies with the less fortunate?
I have a limited amount of undies, but I’ve taken my fingers, forced the corners of my mouth into a smile, and finalize my contributions. Generosity is such a part of my nature that my Uncle has taken the liberty to pull contributions directly from my paycheck. I didn’t even have to volunteer! Sometimes, when he is pleased, he gives some of it back. A few people are opposed to this and call it ‘giving to the rich’, but I don’t mind.
Once, I almost lost the joy of contributing. Shortly after marriage, my taxes became complicated. Today, I pondered the fond memories of my first tax season of Married Filing Jointly. Looking at the forms, I had to choose between 1040EZ, 1040 E=MC2, 1040 Egyptian-Hieroglyphic, 1040 Mayan-2012 edition, or one of the other options. I thought the EZ sounded promising until I read the instructions. It had three lines:
1-How much did you earn?
2-How much have you contributed?
3-Subtract line A from line B. This is the amount owed.
I was feeling confused until I saw the Tax information hotline. I pressed buttons until I heard, “Press 8 to speak to a friendly representative.” I poked the key and waited patiently for three and a half hours. I was so excited about contributing my fair share that my wait only seemed like minutes. Many minutes. A woman answered – at least I think it was a woman – and said, “You may now ask your irrelevant question. Please.”
When I explained my need, she said in a friendly sigh, “I need to ask you a few hundred questions. Grab all your personal and financial information and we’ll begin.”
I pulled the drawers from my filing cabinet. “Okay. I think I’m ready.”
“That’s what they all say.” I could hear the smile in her voice. “Do you or have you ever owned a home, trailer, car, luxury yacht, dollhouse, any other material or non-material property, and if so, have you ever market assessed its depreciation, appreciation, deflectuation, had monetarily valuation of the circumference of the said material, non-material, intellectual, or abstraction within the last –.”
I hung up. She was right, I wasn’t ready. And I was too stupid to talk to her. I decided to go with the 1040A. It was the first letter of the alphabet, and it only had 7500 lines. It started simple enough, but as I continued, I felt like I was wading into deeper waters. It was ankle deep, waist deep, and then I dropped in over my head.
The problem started when I reached line 2000. The form said, “If totals from line 976 is greater than the total of 421a, but less than 421j, or is less than the total of line 1023, but greater than the total of 421m while not exceeding the combination of lines 85, 130, and 587z while remaining greater than the totals of lines 901, 935a, and 950az, enter that amount here.”
Now I was beginning to get frustrated. I had stepped off the ledge of understanding and was now swimming in the sea of stupidity. It was so simple. Why didn’t I get it? I tried again. After all, how hard can it be to add and subtract simple numbers? I walked through the instructions, and felt the pressure building in my head. I breathed deeply. “Okay, calm down, and let’s start again from the beginning.” As an added precaution, I wrapped masking tape around my head to keep it from blowing under the pressure. I began again, and again, and again. Then it happened. There was a blinding light and I started shredding forms and gnashing paper.
My wife eased the door open to see the cause of the commotion. I looked up and our eyes met. I looked down at the pieces of paper that once represented my patriotic dreams, and looked up again. I saw her eyes fixed on my forehead and I remembered the tape wrapped around my noggin. I spit out a wad of 1040A and said, “I can explain.” As I picked tape from my hair, the words wouldn’t come. The only words I could think of were, “I need help.” My wife nodded and closed the door.
I swallowed my pride and began my quest for answers. I found something called Turbo Tax, and for the last fifteen years, it has translated my crude language into something the government can understand. I have no idea what it does, but I put in a few answers and it spits out a return. Unless we adopt the Fair Tax, I don’t think anyone will ever understand our tax system. This software is the closest thing in existence. I haven’t eaten a single tax document in fifteen years!
Now I’m looking for software to help bridge the gap between women and men. If someone from Intuit reads this, can you start working on a product called Turbo-Spouse? It would be nice to answer a few questions and know exactly what my wife wants, and then be able to answer in a language she can understand.
Did I mention that my book is only 99 cents? You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. If you act now, I’ll include four other emotions for the same low price. It’s holding on to a 5 star rating. Find out why. Where else can you get that much entertainment for less than a buck? Buy I Called Him Dancer here.
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Author of I Called Him Dancer
President of the Christian Authors Guild