I had a nightmare last eve. It went something like this...
The fog was snaking its way slowly up the cabin's steps, urged on by a whisper of salt-garnished air gliding in from the bay. I had been watching as the mist solemnly drew a murky curtain over the Homer Spit and then slithered toward its terminal, intent on shrouding the world from me.
The concept of becoming visually isolated so deep into the eve on which he was to arrive chilled my bloodless flesh. Trepidation crawled through my soul as if spiders were spinning nests of apocalyptic doom. A somber knell drifted across the chamber and I turned to gaze at the old, crypt-shaped clock as it pronounced the imminent hour. I realized precious time for making final amends was hurtling into an epochal abyss and that further procrastination could only lead to possible public vilification and humiliation. My soul was torn.
"To deduction enable or not deduction enable?" That was the question.
Such dread! Such heart-pounding uncertainty! Such institutional loathing, such thespian B.S.
So what's with the mega drama, Nick? The Tax Man cometh every year get a grip, wimp, and file by midnight April 17 ... End of story.
I paused, and switched to decaf.
Hmmm, I suppose that was a bit theatrical, but the problem is real for some of you out there. Should you, or should you not, amend your return to creatively structure multiple adult beverage lunches, a few weeks in Maui and a side trip to Fiji into legitimate business tax deductions presumably in support of actively seeking gainful employment as an Amway/Avon/Fuller Brush apprentice? Should you try and claim your company bonus of the hot red Humvee sitting in the yard is a tax-free 'loaner' while writing off the family motor home as a fishing charter office and the new dually as a business deduction for your other part-time business as a bait vendor?
It seems like everyone else surfaces with a master's degree in "creative deductions" this time of year so why, oh why, can't I?
Yes folks, every year when the dark side of April rolls around, I have the darnest urge to push the enter key on my computer's latest Turbo Scam-n-No-Jail-Time software that I picked up after someone pawned it for bail money but I wuss out.
I'm almost serious. Tax time really rates as a highly annoying "fun as a major case of cooties" around this household. Why? I'm not sure. Our yearly combined income couldn't pay for a sixteen year old rapper's pimped-out ride but there's always the feeling that if we mistakenly transcribe a wrong number six guys will show up confiscate our animal coops and hold the chickens under quarantine until we fork over documents proving we were not remiss in declaring income from a dozen eggs two years ago.
I'm sure there must be a few of you out there who hate spending hours leafing through the 10 pounds of instructions just so you won't blow entering your Social Security number in Sub. Form B/1-88-0: Amendment 4:/Column C. thus getting a nasty letter stating that the IRS is holding your 37-cent refund until you mail five different letters of error explanation to every agent in Utah, and California.
Or, just love receiving some initial notice decrying that you underpaid your taxes by $10.95 in 2009 and they demand the balance immediately in 2010 plus, $18.96 in interest and $1,998 in penalty taxes. Of course, if it's the other way around, and they owe you bucks from 2000, you'll be notified in this year with a promise to repay only the original $10.95 sometime during the year 2015 unless their computer software suffers another seizure and ends up with the same calculating prowess and memory as a yam.
I don't know why I find taxes taxing. I mean there are only property, sales, income, luxury, estate, Social Security, disguised (fees), education, road, gasoline, capital gains, value added, sin, airport, doggy, import, export, brew, municipal, general pain-in-the-butt, and anything-else-the-political-weenies-can-think-of taxes.
What's my problem, right? I mean, I should be grateful they don't tax my income tax refund. Forget I said that.
Anyway, I hope you get through April 17 without blowing a vital vessel. For me, it is simple. I'll fill out my usual extension request. I'm still not ready to declare and expose my income from writing yet. The IRS will think I'm trying to yank their chain because no one in their right mind would pursue a career that nets less than selling used pencils on a sidewalk corner in New Jersey. Believe me, I'm not. I just have to be careful. Certain members of that particular compilation of civil servants have a tendency to be seriously humor challenged.
Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org unless he suddenly disappears after April 17.