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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Love and Taxes

Despite what you might think, doing taxes together is not a good means of drawing close to your spouse.

I can see how one might expect otherwise, that it could foster a "You and me versus the World" mentality, or simply give occasion for one spouse, say the one who doesn't have to get up at five every morning and schlep ninety minutes to work, to recognize what a great provider the other spouse is, and perhaps give him a congratulatory back rub.

Not so much.

Tax time in our house is like one of those frantic side scenes in disaster movies like "Titanic" and "The Towering Inferno," only punctuated with titles of arcane government forms.

"It says we need the 8385-B, 'Reconciliation of overcontributions to retirement and pension funds.' Where are we supposed to get that?"

"What the hell is an overcontribution? That sounds like a made-up word, like 'pre-boarding,' or 'impacting.' It doesn't even make sense."

"It means we contributed too much. What does the I-943 form say, on line 238?"

"It says 43 cents."

"No, you're looking at SI-942. I'm talking about I-943."

"Well how the hell did our *%#$!*! S-forms get mixed in with our federal forms?"

"I don't see any need for you to take the Lord's name in vain like that."

"In vain? In vain? It's not in vain. I earnestly, truly want him to manifest himself right now, in all his righteous splendor, and smite Caesar and all his minions with their petty rules and hellish forms! Oh no, sister, it's not in vain at all!"

"I don't think raising your voice will help matters."

"Fine. While you're digging in that pile, can you find me the 6243-7211B subsection-S form again? I think I filled in a number from the wrong line. Sorry."

"Sweet holy mother of God!"

"Look, if I can't call on the Savior, then you're not allowed to call on his mother."

"Make me a pitcher of frozen margaritas right now, or I'm filing for divorce."

Somehow we survived, and even got our sorry, unreliable new Epson printer, which is rivaled in its undependability only by the thoroughly unsatisfactory customer service of it manufacturer, to print the forms in mostly readable fashion. (Note to Epson: I'll be glad to amend this comment, which Google should do a nice job of picking up, especially when I include phrases like "review of Epson" and "Epson customer service," once you people stop sending me sorry refurbs as replacements for the brand new printer that never worked in the first place, and actually provide a workable return label so we don't make fruitless trips to the FedEx office in an effort to return your third-rate merchandise).

I like to think my wife and I are stronger for the ordeal, but I'm glad the exercise only comes once a year. I feel the IRS pushing me to a point of bifurcation -- either I will simplify my life to the point that I have only one small form to fill out, or I will assemble enough wealth that I can afford a legion of accountants and lawyers to battle forms on my behalf. As in most things, the middle ground stinks.

On a lighter note, Eli is picking up a little French.

"Daddy, do you know what 'bon appetit' means?"

"No, Eli, what does it mean?"

"It means 'have a nice eating.'"

He's such a cute little tax deduction boy.

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