Thursday, April 14, 2005

The tax man's taken all I've got...

Most people think of the Beatle's "Tax Man" as the ultimate Tax Day song. But for my money, I'll be cranking up "Sunny Afternoon" by the Kinks. But then again, I also like to call my friends on their birthdays and play "Back in the USSR" to them over the phone (you get the joke, don't you?) But back to Tax Day, I've been tormented every April 15 for the past four years because, for some reason, my former employer never took out enough money from my paycheck and I ended up owing a lot of money. And as I received paltry salary increases, the problem got worse . Last year, I owed something close to $1000. Of course, I'm a classical, textbook procrastinator, and it was the last year I was at that job before I looked into the problem: it was because my w2 was completely screwed up. I think there were like 5 deductions (or exemptions, or whatever they're called on the w2). So that means me and four other people. Yet, I went home to an empty apartment every night. One spring, I filled out a new W2 and handed it in to my company. After a few months of waiting, I saw that while I had filled out my W2 to take 0 deductions, they had entered my deductions as 4. So I don't know. Maybe someone who was entering it thought, "Surely this poor guy didn't lose his wife and three kids." So anyway, another form was filled out. A few months later, finally, with two weeks left to go in the year -- and right before I left the job -- the bureaucratic wheels turned in my favor, and my deductions were reduced to 0. But the crippling tax bills gave birth a Tax Day tradition. Keep in mind, procrastination is part of every one of my traditions. So, yes, I'm one of those idiots you see on the news racing to the Lincoln Park post office on Sheffield & Fullerton at 11 p.m. Once I dropped that letter in the mail, I would be completely broke. For several weeks. The excitement -- of finishing the taxes and slipping them in just as Uncle Sam begins to draw the strings on the mail sack -- would quickly wane, and hunger would set in (who can eat when you're facing mild financial penalties!) So then I would go around the corner to the Demon Dogs, scraping up any change I find on the sidewalk along the way, and buy the only meal I could afford: A greasy hot dog, fries, and if I could afford it, a small beverage. Ah, I can smell the grease right now. This year, though, things are different. I'm married -- for real, now -- and my wife is self-employed. So I've been introduced to the concept of the tax preparer. What a wonderful person that is. So no trip to Demon Dogs. It's a little sad, but you know, the CTA is going to knock Demon Dogs down pretty soon anyway. I'm going to end this post...I'm reminding myself of Lucky in Waiting for Godot, silence...silence...silence...endless rambling. I'll stop now.

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