I love winter. I love snow. I love making a blazing fire in my fireplace on a cool day. But there is one thing I hate about this time of year: taxes.
February is tough for the self-employed. It’s difficult because my 1099 forms – official records of how much my customers paid me last year – are arriving in the mail.
I hope and pray that in the 1099s I made less than I know – because my tax contributions are always much higher than I thought.
I’d love to meet the genius who used “contribution” instead of “mandatory tax liability”. He’s probably the same guy who calls our nearly $ 28 trillion national debt an “investment.”
As a former English major, I’ve never liked math or accounting. But from February to April 15th, tax day, I have to do my best with both.
That’s because our income tax system is complex. It’s complex because drunks (members of Congress) designed it to have a bureaucracy (IRS) turn the incomprehensible (tax law) into the unfathomable (complex tax rules) in order to punish productive Americans (self-employed) on behalf of good fun.
I am hiring an auditor to calculate my tax contributions. But my CPA makes me sort and count all my expenses first.
From January 1st to December 31st, I throw every invoice, receipt, expense, etc. in a large box – because these little pieces of paper, which are deductions from my tax burden, are like currency for me.
Starting in February, I spend hours sorting through last year’s slip-ups with the aim of keeping my income from the previous year as low as possible so my income tax doesn’t cause heart attacks that I can’t afford anymore because mine “Independent Health Insurance” has a deductible that is higher than the value of my Toyota Tacoma 2020!
It is around this time that I curse Republicans every year for talking about simplifying the tax system throughout my adult life.
“Put us in power and the tax code will be the first thing we’ll fix!” They always promise.
“You can fill out your tax return on the back of a postcard!” they say with a wink.
“We’re going to make filing so easy that we add tax attorneys to the unemployment line!” they say with a laugh.
Because when they come to power, Republicans will do little or nothing to simplify increasingly complicated tax laws that are causing the self-employed to worry about heart attacks that I can’t afford even more because of my 2021 premium rose again and I had to switch to an even higher deductible plan.
Now the Democrats control the White House, the House and the Senate.
They promise to only tax the rich and leave the rest of us alone.
And I laugh and laugh – as I prepare for new tax complexities that will cause me even more distress.
I would love to ski on beautiful snow-capped hills and forget about the tax issues that are pulling me down.
But I’m scared of spending the money on skiing – because, like every year, my tax burden will be much higher than I thought.
Gosh, I hate this time of year.
Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970er’s Childhood,” a humorous essay available on amazon.com, is a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.