In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Today is April 15th, and if you are an adult resident of the United States of America, you likely cannot think of today without cringing a little bit, or perhaps experiencing an involuntary spasm in your eyelid. This is because the official deadline for filing income tax forms is midnight tonight, and for many citizens, this creates quite a bit of stress – both financial and emotional.
Tax Day is universally hated. The time spent gathering and organizing the necessary documents and receipts, the impossible task of deciphering tax forms which appear to be written in ancient Greek, and the looming fear of an audit — yes, these all combine together to create a malignant soup of anxiety guaranteed to cause gastric distress in even the most seasoned of filers.
Even the realization that a refund is owed does not allay the frustration many feel – after all, the government has held the over payment of funds all year, even if it will now be returned to you in 3 – 6 weeks (sans interest, of course.). Not everyone is lucky enough to receive a refund, either. Some unfortunate souls finish their taxes only to find that they owe a substantial payment to cover a deficit in their tax contributions. The ideal situation (in my opinion) is to complete all the tax forms and end up with a zero balance in the end – nothing owed to the government, and nothing due to be refunded back.
(This has never happened to me. I think of it as the Holy Grail of Tax Season.)
But over the years, I have learned the wisdom of keeping careful records, and of completing my tax forms well in advance of the April 15th deadline. I’ve learned this as I’ve learned everything in life – the Hard Way.
I’ve learned it after decades of driving in ever widening concentric circles from my home seeking a post office that is still open and postmarking envelopes “April 15” in the final minutes prior to midnight. It’s the takeaway lesson from years of digging through stacks of papers looking for 1099 and W-2 forms that I carelessly threw aside and left to mingle in a pile of old catalogs and junk mail. It’s the only way to avoid sitting in front of my computer at 11:43 p.m., helplessly looping through the same questions on TurboTax over and over again, hands shaking from over-consumption of caffeine and eyes blind with rage when my browser locks up AGAIN. Meanwhile the minute hand clicks, louder than a gong, and my stomach heaves as the deadline pushes ever closer to me…
But slowly, I learned. I’ve finally wised up and now I make it a priority to file our family’s tax forms before a self-imposed deadline of March 31st each year. (Except when I don’t. But this year I did, so I’m going to indulge myself in some self-congratulatory back patting for now.)
If you are one of the many who has put off this onerous task until today, I understand. You won’t get any judgment from me.
I’ve been there. I get it.
But really, I have to ask – what are you doing hanging around here? Go file those taxes!