Taxes are Hard

George and I are arguing. It’s tax preparation season. It’s a similar experience to when you sit down with a shrink. You cannot lie. Actually, that’s a guideline, but only for the shrink. If you lie to your therapist, then what’s the point? Unfortunately, I can think of a whole list of reasons why you would do that. Embarrassment, awkwardness, guilt, shame, nerves, fear of judgment. Now that I look at it, I’ve got the same list of problems when George and I do the taxes.

We gather up the receipts and fill out the preparatory forms and send it off to the accountant to figure out the damage. You’d think we’d have a good idea which way the numbers will come out, but sadly, no. When the big envelope comes back, ready for our signatures, we open it with a drink in our hands. Sometimes it’s good news, sometimes it’s bad.

During the prep, one of the many things George and I judge each other on is our organizational skills—or lack thereof. We gently remind the other of the rules we vowed to keep so as not to experience a repeat of the previous years brouhaha, but those reminders are difficult pills to swallow.

The accountant also discovers our the mistakes. Specifically, deductions not taken advantage of during the year of relevance. I liken it to receiving a coupon the day after a big purchase, or when something goes on sale immediately after you bought it and you were the last schmuck in line paying full price.

I did this once at a video store. They asked me if I wanted to buy their lifetime membership which would give me discounts on future purchases. I had to pay for the membership, but if I used their services a lot, it would pay for itself. This was a store where I was slowly bringing my priceless home movies on VHS cartridges to be converted to DVDs. It was an expensive process. After George found out how much it cost, he went out (without consulting me) and purchased a machine so we could do the job ourselves. The machine cost a fortune, was impossible to figure out, and time consuming. I recently donated it, and the unused, sky-high stack of prettily colored CDs George bought for the transfers. “Do you remember the VHS event, George?” I asked sweetly. It was always a nice feeling to have that bullet in the gun.

But blowback came to my parlay. George reminded me what happened at the video store. After I’d purchased the lifetime membership, I’d gone over there with a large stack of precious VHSs and found the place shuttered. I was caught again, one step behind. The relevance of the place and my purchase was gone, just like poor Blockbuster. (Who, if my recollection serves, also tried to sell some premium upgrade to me before they closed their doors. I gave the kid a “oh, please” look. Even I saw that closure coming).

Here’s my advice. Keeping score in a marriage may not be a good idea, but blogging about your spouse’s idiot purchases feels just about right.

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