Lamaze should be required for tax preparation…

Every year, my dad would trot out the bottle of scotch, a calculator, receipts (sometimes there was a shoe box, other times a brown paper bag that served a double purpose,) pencils, a pencil sharpener and his angriest-looking face.  The rest of us tiptoed and whispered, afraid to tempt the beast that was about to be unleashed by the mathematical improbabilities of “I made how much?  Where did it go?  [insert expletives in Spanish, spoken with an Argentine accent that only comes out when he’s truly angry]  How is it possible?  [insert my mother’s name, at the top of his lungs, and my mother -after doing the sign of the cross- sitting quietly next to him while looking helpless and trying to seem helpful.]”  That was April 14th through the 15th at 11:45 PM when he dashed to the P.O. to have his form postmarked with compliance to the due date.  Of course…between 11:00 PM and the moment when he hopped in the car, my father had been struggling to put the check into the envelope, his hand trembling, his lip shaking, his eyes welling with tears and the shoebox/brown paper bag being pressed into service for either hurling or hyperventilating.

I would like to point out that my husband married me for my tax deductions.  That is our official story.  He had always had to pay taxes until he filed with me and then, lo and behold, he got money back.  I think it was a moment similar to the one when he realized he would get a refund that has inspired many a poet to write odes to their beloved.  Yes, the man loves me.  Yes, he positively adores my children, but the idea of tax deductions gives him a warm glow that nothing else can…

I would also like to point out that there have been years when, yes, we have to pay taxes, but my husband doesn’t resent it because our children have attended public school, we drive on roads maintained by our tax dollars and so forth.  A refund is a gift, as it were…it’s one less headache to take Tylenol for, and he is grateful.

Have I mentioned I studied Humanities?  Yes, I did.  I have a B.A. in Humanities with a major in History and a minor in English.  I also have a Master’s in Liberal Arts (ha, I know, right!  I have spent my entire academic life pursuing unemployment!!!!) and can bullshit my way through just about any subject.  I am TERRIBLE at Math.  When I took Algebra I argued vigorously that I could get any result I wanted because a variable should be any number I wanted it to be.  My favorite answer to any algebraic equation was NFI…no f*cking idea.  And I, ladies and gentlemen, do the taxes around here…

Don’t ask me why.  I’ve yet to understand how it is that, of all the complex and potentially harmful forays into the world of numerical calculations, I would endeavor to undertake this one.  I religiously sit with all the tax forms, receipts, calculator, pencils and a cup of tea (it’s too early in the day for whisky, but I’ve been sorely tempted, believe me) and I do our taxes.  I consider it a major miracle, and possibly proof positive of the existence of a much higher power than any we give credit to, that we’ve yet to be audited.  I have been waiting for this day, but it seems -surprise, surprise- that I have a greater talent for untangling the tax mess than my husband, he of the B.S. in Finance.  Maybe I’m just less emotional about it????  Men tend to hyperventilate…my dad REALLY needed that shoe box/brown paper bag.

I announced this morning that I was doing the taxes.  J behaved like a gem of a human once I told him this; there are things he wants that a) he knows I’m the one who will remember how he’s behaved and b) he is aware that this is about money.  My husband was kind and loving with an extra layer of have a nice day on top.  The Great Gonzo came home, after picking up the car from my husband’s office, and asked if I needed anything.  He knew.  He’s scared, though…he is no longer a deduction…which makes him (dum dum DUUUUUUUM) a taxpayer!  After a shower and a cup of tea, and some hemming and hawing because I say the same things my dad used to say only to no one in particular and with no shoebox handy, I sat at my desk and wrapped myself in a red fleece blanket.  The effect was soothing; there I was, cocooned by this blanket while I sorted through numbers that seemed ludicrous to me…  Really: where does the money go???????????????

A great deal of our money is invested in life.  That is, when you walk into J’s room, FOUR scrum caps hang from a rack.  Each of those things costs a chunk of change…and that’s not counting the one he wears all the time.  I can’t explain to the government where our money goes to, even if they can clearly see that we have none to spare.

What would we do if we got audited?  There are no deductions for scrum caps or Slinky.  I have tried to reason that one out just to see what we would get back…isn’t that some sort of investment?  Why don’t they give me a peace and quiet investment deduction?  I know people who could then deduct a pool, a bouncy house, a battery-operated Barbie convertible and a wine cellar.  I can’t very well try to deduct money spent on sports equipment that goes to anything but sports, right?  Dora the Explorer is not tax deductible, even though it feels like we support her in the style to which she has become accustomed.  Should anyone look at how much property we have in terms of Lego buildings and structures…boy…that would be interesting…

I can take the shroud off now.  No need to be the really colorful doppelgänger for Palpatine…with better (and larger) teeth, I hope.  The cocoon of fleece soothed me while in the midst of calculations, percentages, and thinking that tonight I have to do it all over again, guiding TGG in the process.  Sadly, he doesn’t turn 21 until AFTER Tax Day…otherwise I’d offer the family cure, conference my dad in over the phone and they could both bemoan their financial fate with a dram of The Balvenie…

J will be happy to know that tricycle he wants is not as far-fetched a notion as we all thought it was a few weeks ago…


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