The Most Taxing Season

I’m glad that there are some responsible people in this country and none more so than the person I’ve affectionately dubbed the “W-2 guy”.

No matter where I am, W-2 guy always manages to find a way to send the form to my mailbox. It’s almost as if Santa took a seasonal job at the IRS, using his naughty list to deliver time-sensitive tax documents.

I have an annual moment of gratitude for W-2 guy, because, well, without him, I’d forget to file my taxes every flippin’ time.

But the moment of gratitude is almost always accompanied by a moment of searing shame, which I will share with you now.

I’m 26 years old and I have no idea what I’m doing when I file my tax returns.

If federal agents knocked down my door tomorrow morning and arrested me for tax evasion or some sort of fraud, I wouldn’t even be surprised. I’d go to court and plead not guilty by reason of ignorance. The judge wouldn’t believe that a 26 year old man could be that stupid and would then sentence me for 3 years in a minimum-security prison. My only hope is to broker a deal for house arrest.

That’s the worst case scenario, of course. The best case scenario is that I’m earning a paycheck and putting my complete trust in an automated system to take however much money they need to fulfill my civic obligation. This from the same guy who’s reluctant to stick a dollar into vending machines for fear of being ripped off.

Now, this isn’t to say that I’m a complete fiscal ape. I get the whole taxes thing from like…a “theoretical” standpoint. I get paid. A portion of that money goes to the government so that they can spend it on social services, entitlements, defense, and state dinners. Whatever I overpaid, I get back in refunds.

And you know what? I can even follow the broad eco-political discourse on tax policy. Obama just released a budget that uses tax credits to spur job creation, allows Bush-era tax cuts to expire for families making $250,000 or more, and employs incentives for small businesses to encourage hiring. And no, I didn’t copy and paste that from Wikipedia.

But when it comes to how I personally fall into this whole equation, I’m at a complete loss. It’s a classic case of being able to see the forest but not the trees. So how do I get by? By filling in boxes. I save receipts (though I don’t know why). I nod knowingly when I receive advice on tax deductible purchases. I stay away from investments because they’ll just complicate my tax returns. And then I get on my knees, close my eyes, and pray that I don’t get audited by the IRS. That pretty much sums it up.

BUT LET’S BE REAL PEOPLE. I know for a fact that most of you reading this can’t tell me that you really know what’s up either. I know this in two ways. One, because everyone I know has pretty much been in school their whole lives, and they don’t teach this shit in schools. WELL, THEY SHOULD.

And two, because whenever I ask friends about this or that, I get the textbook run around answer. The answer where they don’t really know either, but they’re trying to save face.

I’m saying all this because it’s time we finally come out, admit our shameful little secret, swallow our pride and order this book on right away.


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