A Tax Procrastinator
by Jim Stevens (JimStevens@aol.com)
Burlington, VT (April 15, 1999) -- Today, April 15th, conjures up a collective wince across the land that some of us can almost feel in the air. Alas, it was years ago when I first heard the learned advice: "Don't have too much withheld from your pay; it's better to owe the U.S. some money come April 15th than go for that big refund-check smile. Who wants to loan the government money interest free, for heaven's sake?"
In my case, at first implementation, the plan was executed like a well-oiled machine. The W-4s were calculated and submitted perfectly, and by late January, the completed return was awaiting April 15th filing, ensuring maximum legal use of other people's money.
Then came all the buying and selling and refinancing of homes, the kids, the rollover 401(k)s, move plans, tax law changes, stock investing, and a general onset of the dreaded disease "CRS" (Can't Remember Stuff). There was increasingly more stuff going on in my life, and I began a slow sinking into tax aversion and confusion. The waiting-to-file ploy, which was formerly done for the intelligent purpose of keeping as much money as possible for the longest time, became a mere shield from spousal accusations of procrastination.
As the small payment holdback became less and less of a significant benefit to my growing household, it became just an excuse to put off the inevitable until the very last minute. As if I ever needed an excuse for that!
Act One, Scene One, February 25th
Jim's Loving Wife: Jim, honey, shouldn't you get our taxes in? Sweetie, maybe we should get someone to do them this year.
Jim: (with authority) Darling, as I've always said, I can handle them. We owe money, and you know I wait until the last minute so we can hold on to the government's money as long as possible, dear.
Jim's Loving Wife: (smirking knowingly) Yeah, right.
Act Two, Scene one, April 15th, 9:30 PM
Jim's Loving Wife: Goodness, it's getting late, do you really think you'll be done on time?
Jim: (thinly concealing panic while rooting through large piles of envelopes) Oh, no problem. I could have been finished hours ago. I like going downtown, to that big post office that they keep open late, right before midnight. I get to see all the other last-minute folks -- they're such a fun group!
Jim's Loving Wife: (after loud uncontrollable laughter) Make sure you close the garage door, and try not to wake me up when you come in.
Maybe next year I can get a jump on them! For now, it's time to hit the forms.