Monday, March 28, 2011

Taxing Time

The cats know we're about to begin doing our income taxes. Three cats, that is; Snicky is oblivious. As a tortoiseshell, she lives in a world of her own, ignoring taxes and all of life's unpleasantness.

At this time of year, my Sicilian father always reminds his children and his shadier relatives: "You have to pay your taxes. It's how they got to Al Capone."

Wendy takes this very seriously. She's the primmest, most Puritanical cat I've ever had. She sits on the table beside our growing pile of tax files, staring at us pointedly.

Wendy urges us to do our civic duty.

But Snalbert and Possum remember our adventures with TurboTax last year, and all the tension, yelling, confusion, and despair. They've seen the pile of tax material, too. They remember getting in big trouble when they knocked sorted piles of files onto the floor. They've been trying to find a way to run away from home until April 15. I believe they are plotting to ship each other to a Key West cat colony for a couple of weeks.

Finding the boxes was easy. Figuring out how
 to ship each other is proving complicated.

It's not that we mind paying taxes. We're happy to pay our share. It's just that it's so darn hard to figure out how much that is. TurboTax is supposed to be simpler than filling out forms by hand; I wonder. At least we're not likely to stab ourselves and each other — accidentally! — with pencils. We feel like morons after a few hours of tussling with the same baffling questions it asks us every year. But because TurboTax keeps all of our information from the previous year, we don't dare switch to different software. Our taxes are not that complicated; we must just be very stupid because we have no idea what we are doing most of the time. So when we get a question that stumps us, we just check off "no," figuring that, if we don't understand the question, it must not apply to us.

On top of that, every year we get to the end of the program and realize that I never entered my self-employment tax payments. So we go back to the beginning and click through every single page a few times, killing an hour or two. We never find the right box. Eventually we give up and put the correct amount in the least illogical box. We surely miss deductions, because we don't understand the questions or we can't bear to do any more calculations.

Last year, we got a layer cake from Lyndell's Bakery to give us the strength to get through this annual nightmare. We completed our taxes in record time (confusion and agony were intensified in direct proportion to the shorter time period). It must have been all that sugar energizing our brains.

It will therefore be necessary to get a cake from Lyndell's this year.

So, although we've been saying for several days that we would definitely start our taxes tonight, there's no cake, so it's not happening. Maybe tomorrow night. The boys could use a little extra time to work on their flight plan, too.

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