Count on it: Tax man cometh

Unhinged Alaska

Posted: Sunday, April 08, 2007

The fog was snaking its way slowly up the cabin’s steps urged on by a whisper of salt-garnished air gliding across the bay. I had been watching as the mist solemnly drew a wet curtain over the Spit and then slithered toward its terminal intent of deliberately shrouding the world from me. The concept of becoming visually isolated so deep into the eve of his arrival chilled my bloodless flesh. Threads of trepidation spread through my soul as a somber knell drifted across the sanctum.

I turned to gaze at the headstone-shaped clock as it pronounced the imminent death of the last remaining minutes prior to the witching hour. I realized precious time for making final amends was hurtling into a black hole abyss and that further procrastination could only lead to possible public vilification and humiliation. My soul was torn.

“To deduct enable or not to deduct enable?” That was the question.

“When will it all end, the horror, the heart-hammering uncertainty, institutional loathing and such really horrific thespian drama?” I asked myself. “The tax personage cometh every year. Get a grip, Lame-o, file and forget it ... end of story.”

I paused, and switched to decaf. The Red Bull-laced double espressos and No-Doz dusted Sugar Pops had me wanting to deduct my dog Howard’s legal fees and incorrigible cur obedience school tuition along with Little Bear’s toy poodle sweater collection as business expenses.

I’m sure I’m not alone.

Some of you are pondering whether or not to amend your return to reflect multiple cruises, a few weeks in Monte Carlo and a side trip to Costa Rica as legitimate business tax deductions in support of actively seeking gainful employment as a seasonal snowplow driver and/or secret Amway rep. Or that maybe the raffle prize award of a new silver Lincoln Navigator sitting in your front yard is actually a tax-free loaner from the charity you subsequently “gave” it to.

Let’s not forget the new 60-inch plasma TV as a research tool for your home office or the cool 4x4 Onstar-equipped, Hemi-enhanced short bed with 20-inch chrome wheels as a compost hauler company work truck.

It seems like everyone else surfaces with a post doctorate in creative deductions this time of year, but I freeze up just signing the standard withholding form.

There must be a few of you out there who hate spending days leafing through 10 pounds of instructions just so you won’t blow entering something in Sub-form B/1-88-0; Amendment 4:/Column C/para2. Thus, resulting in a certified document from the IRS stating that it is withholding your 50 cent refund until you mail three different letters of apologies and explanations to every agent in Utah plus the new outsource sites in Beijing and Bombay.

Or, who just love receiving an initial notice decrying that you underpaid your taxes by $3.25 in 2003 and they demand the balance immediately in 2007, plus $20.25 in interest and $877 in penalty taxes. Of course, if it’s the other way around, and they made a mistake and still owe you from ’01, you’ll be notified in ’08, with a promise to repay only the original $3.25 sometime during the year 2010 when their computer software is scheduled to suffer an upgrade seizure and have the same calculating prowess and memory as your morning yogurt.

I don’t know why I find taxes taxing. I mean there are only property, sales, income, luxury, estate, Social Security, disguised (user fees), education, road, gasoline, capital gains, value-added, sin, airport, doggy, import, export, brew, municipal and general, all purpose, pain-in-the-nether-regions assessments.

What the heck’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 next Tuesday without blowing any crucial organs. For me, it will be a nonissue. I will file my usual extension, thus continuing my angst until mid-August. It’s not that I don’t have them done. It’s just that I’m never ready to declare my vast income from writing newspaper columns. If I wait until mid-August, I’ll be busy fishing somewhere. So when the IRS calls wondering how I can afford the stamps to mail in the short form if my income claims are true, I won’t be available. I just can’t stand it when they laugh like that during the interview.

Nick C. Varney can be reached at when he’s not with a government agent trying to explain why his mutts and mooch master friend Wild Willie should qualify as dependents.

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