I don’t fret. I eat.
My mother always said that it was wrong to worry, telling us that “the only problem that can’t be solved is death.” She was a strong believer in crafting solutions nobody else would have thought of, and I must say I’m proud to have inherited her ability to pull rabbits out of hats.
But then again, Mama never did her own taxes.
I get really close to fretting when the Ides of April approach.
Did we make too much? Well, that question is laughable.
Did we withdraw too much money from our retirement accounts? That’s always a distinct possibility. There’s nothing The Government loves better than to punish people for being broke, and stealing their own hard-earned, painfully saved cash before reaching their senescence.
Will we be punished for not being able to afford health insurance, or for having paid off our home? Will some bureaucrat question our need to have a little job on the side, and for trying to write off the Internet and phone service that makes it possible to do this work? Will they question the value of the items we gave to charity?
Will I make a mistake as I fill out the forms and unleash the wrath of The Government upon my fragile little household?
Yesterday, I thought I had.
There seems to be a glitch in the state version of our tax preparation program, which doubles income you’ve declared on your Federal return, and taxes you accordingly. We had declared that Jeff moved his life savings from one IRA to another… an action that’s considered income, even though the Feds do not tax it. When that information was copied to our State return, the forms indicated I’d withdrawn an equal amount, which had not been moved into a qualified plan. Twice our life savings appeared as current earnings, and “my” half was taxed as ordinary income… to the tune of $17,000.
I don’t know about you, Sweetie, but I don’t have $17,000 to spare… and if I did, I’d rather send it to Home Depot than to Trenton.
This might have been the right time to fret.
But I didn’t. I channeled my Mama and said, damn it, there has to be a way to fix this. There was no field where I could indicate I had never received the amount in question, so I decided to go back to the Federal Return, where everything had been input initially. It was fine. I went back to New Jersey. It was wrong. I said to myself, “Maybe if I started the State return over, and input the material again. It might transfer correctly this time.”
I hit the wrong button, erasing both my Federal and State returns.
I’d been working on this crap for four hours, and suddenly, everything I’d been doing was gone.
You think I might have been entitled to fret a little?
I don’t fret, you know. I eat.
And since nothing brings me closer to fretting than feeling thwarted by a system that’s stealing my money, I stared at the bloody computer, felt my blood pressure rise by a good thirty points, and yelled out to my poor innocent husband, “GET ME A FUCKING SUB SANDWICH!!!”
“We don’t have any cold cuts or rolls.”
“THEN GET YOUR ASS OUT TO WAWA AND BUY SOME!”
“I thought you said not to shop until your Social Security check came in.”
I don’t fret. I eat. And when I’m barred from eating, I attack.
God bless that man, he went and he bought me my sandwich. A big one. With soup. And a soda. And he bought the same thing for himself.
We are entitled, damn it. We’ve each worked more than forty years, and even though I’m retired, I’m damned if we’ll be deprived of sustenance, even as Uncle Sam sticks his greedy hand into our pockets, with the help of faulty software that invites him to take much more than he’s due.
And no, I’m not fretting, damn it! I’m pissed!
But Jeff and I ate our dinners, and I went back to the computer, where I reinserted all our information, fixed the glitch, and determined we only owed the government something in the vicinity of two weeks’ income… an obnoxious amount, but not crippling.
It took me about three hours to finish, and by then, I’d digested the sandwich. I lunged into our rapidly emptying cupboards, and emerged with a big bowl of Cheerios, some guava shells and cream cheese, and a Solo cup filled with Jack Daniels.
Soon, I was no longer in danger of fretting. I was sick to my stomach and drunk as a skunk, but I’d made it through the ordeal without having worried.