I submitted my tax returns a little before midnight on April 15th this year. That is by no means the latest I’ve ever turned them in. For years and years we always got refunds from both Federal and State, so I was submitting them about as late as my husband would let me get away with (the government really doesn’t care if you let them hold on to your money a little longer). One year I think I filed them in June.
But then last year, surprise! We owned money for the first time ever. I’d been using an accountant for a while by that point, and luckily I’d gotten everything in on time! Phew.
And then, a few months later, I got a letter from the IRS telling me that I hadn’t paid my taxes in 2013. A quick call to my accountant revealed that even though I’d checked the little box telling them to automatically take the payment out of my checking account, they hadn’t.
So that was it for that accountant. And all year, I kept reminding myself that I needed to find a new one. By the time I finally got around to asking friends for leads, it was too late. So I decided to do our taxes.
The last time I did our taxes, I was using dial-up. We owned nothing and I wasn’t freelancing. I think it usually involved about four pieces of paper and ten minutes of my time.
Things are different now. My husband isn’t the problem, he has a W2 and that’s it. I, on the other hand, have dozens of 1099s and a home office. Oh, and did I mention that I stopped keeping records around February of last year? Yeah, I made it a whole two months keeping weekly track of my income and expenses. That’s actually a record for me.
So, here’s how you can do your taxes all in one day, just like me.
4pm, the day before taxes are due – Sit down to start doing your taxes. Wonder where you put all of the 1099s and interest statements. Start going through the seventeen piles of paper strategically placed around your house.
4:37pm – Find the canvas bag you bought in January for the new fake Christmas tree, which you actually took down in March but couldn’t put away and is still lying in a heap on the parlour floor. Make a mental note to put away Christmas decorations as soon as the taxes are done.
5:20pm – Finally sit down again with all of the relevant papers that arrived in the mail.
5:23pm – Yell at children for not being silent. Wander over to Facebook.
I just yelled “I HAVEN’T HAD CARBS IN THREE-AND-HALF WEEKS AND I’M DOING THE TAXES! DON’T MAKE ME YELL!” Which I was already doing.
5:25pm – Decide that you’ll have time tomorrow to do the whole thing. Stay on Facebook.
5:55am on tax day – Wake up and start gathering everything you need to recreate almost a year’s worth of records. Print out bank, credit card, and PayPal statements for your work accounts.
6:00am – Congratulate yourself on having separate work and personal accounts.
6:17am – Remember those couple of times when you forgot your work credit card and bought business stuff with your personal card. Crap.
6:20am – Print out personal credit card statements.
6:28am – Ban yourself from social media.
6:31am-11:32am – Go through ten months’ worth of bank records with a highlighter.
11:33am – Start entering records into spreadsheet.
1:05pm – Realize you haven’t eaten anything since 7am and haven’t showered and need to be somewhere at 1:30. Grab a couple handfuls of peanuts while running to the shower.
2:44pm – Return home and immediately sit down and continue entering records.
3:00pm – When your children arrive home greet them with “HiIcan’ttalktoyouguysuntilthetaxesaredonesobequiet.”
3:17pm – Yell at daughter for moving pile of papers 2 inches while trying to make room on the dining room table to do her homework.
3:36pm – Cheat on social media ban.
4:35pm – Leave to take daughter to dance class and volunteer for an hour at school; bring laptop and records with you.
6:28pm – Return home and start going through your invoicing records while cursing the fact that you can’t have potato chips because of the stupid diet you’re on. Eat more peanuts.
6:45pm – Cheat on social media ban again.
7:17pm – Start researching online tax prep software because you haven’t used any in ten years.
7:30pm – Greet husband with “Can’t talk. Taxing.”
7:45pm – Throw phone at husband and ask him to order dinner.
8pm – Start filling out tax form. Question why you didn’t marry an accountant. Or at least sleep with one.
8:02pm – Eat more peanuts.
8:30pm – Glare at husband as he walks towards dining-room table with delivery bags full of things you can’t eat. Tell him that it would be better if he and the kids eat dinner in the living room. Kids cheer.
8:31pm – Admit that peanuts will be your dinner.
10pm – Ask husband where the children are. Learn that they went to bed an hour ago.
10:01pm – Inform your husband that you’ve encountered approximately 72 questions on the easy, highly-rated tax software that you didn’t understand, so that he has no plausible deniability when the police knock on your door for tax fraud.
10:17pm – Compare current return to previous year’s return and encounter one huge, unexplainable difference.
10:18pm – Finish off bag of peanuts and calculate that while all you’ve had to eat since breakfast is peanuts, you’ve consumed almost 2,900 calories.
10:20-11:41pm – Try desperately to figure out if last year’s return was wrong or this year’s return is wrong and whether or not you can go to jail for being too stupid to do your own taxes.
11:42pm – Say “Screw it!” file your return and rejoin the world of social media.