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IMG_1826Procrastination is an ugly word.   Who ever invented that nasty term?  It must have been someone with an evil sadistic streak in them.

There are people out there who get their jollies making other people squirm.  No, it is not that they feel joy in their spirit when they inflict pain on others.  That would be too normal.  The rest of us like the sensation of delight that comes from do something that helps others, gets ticked off as a project-well-done or leaves a legacy for others coming after us to enjoy.

Sadistic types like to hurt others.  They feel that what they have done is “right”.  It must have been someone like that who invented the word procrastination.

“Putting something off for a better time” is this the definition of that horrid term?  Stop laughing, you and I, we feel the scourge of this word.  Give us a reason to achieve a goal and we will get it done . . . eventually.

What is  wrong with relaxing while planning on getting a project done? The I.R.S. is busy too.  No use stressing our Federal Employees.  They work for us, after all.

So, if the deadline is filing our tax returns by midnight on April 15, what is the big deal about turning them in early?  Oh, some tout the amount of interest that you do not give up to Uncle Sam while he is getting free use of our tax dollars for three and a half months.  Sure, there are bright people who can figure that kind of stuff out while the rest of us are trying keep our bills paid each month.

Aside from that miniscule financial picky detail, why else do we make everyone feel badly who haven’t yet turned in their taxes?  When we were in school and taking a test, no one got extra credit for turning their examination early.  In fact our teachers told us to take our time.  If we happened to finish early, then we should go back over the test and check our answers.  Is not this April 15 just like that?

We could actually make a game of it.  We could plan our filing, plot out the local post offices just in case the lines are too long at one or the other, then make a final dash just before midnight to grab as much “our time” as possible.  No, I am not of that stripe either; I already finished my taxes too.

IMG_1717April 15 is not a favorite date on anyone’s calendar.  It is more than a deadline.  It is more like a doomsday foreboding boogeyman ready to pounce.

D.C. doesn’t help.  All of the vitriol on the Hill annoys most of us hard-working Americans.  Those are the guys using words to confuse the general public to hide raising taxes.  Hey, how come all of us are watching our expenses, cutting back on vacations, scrimping on trips to save on our expensive gas bills while the lifestyle in D.C. is booming?

Well, whining doesn’t help change the government.  It does give a lot of relief while collecting receipts, reconciling documents and double-checking deductions.  My calculator is solar-powered, so at least I don’t have to pay for new batteries.

Most of the year I spend a great deal of energy on being positive.  I look for reasons to be cheerful.  Joy is under some rock out there.

Preparing my taxes is simply a matter of addition.  It is a lot of addition.  Piles of receipts have to be organized and tabulated.  No one else can do it. It’s a solo task.

During the year I try to keep organized.  My file system is ready to catch a handful of receipts whenever I throw them in my cabinet.  I graduated from separate shoe boxes decades ago.  Nevertheless, the sporadic task is very similar.  Now, with the deadline within sight on my calendar I plod on through my addition like a weary traveler slogging it through deep Michigan snow drifts.

Often I pause and remember the great fellowship that those receipts represent.  Sometimes it was hanging out with a fabulous staff.  Other times it was spending time with people who were guests to our church, men to talk to about the next steps in committed living or encouraging members who needed some shepherd time.

But, alas, the IRS is not interested in the back story, they only want the bottom line.  There is a number that they want.  I want to give it to them.

Time to push on, add more numbers.  Summarize more categories.  Funnel numbers down to one final addition.

It will come.  I will get there.  Eventually, the organized files will spill out the final sum.

Hey, look at this.  I remember when we met with those people and talked late into the night.  It was fun, deep, meaningful…hey get back to addition.  The deadline is closing in.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

There are a lot of promises coming from politicians.  They spout this and that about taxes especially, but the truth is that my taxes keep going up.  I know that I’m not on of the wealthy but that package from my tax preparer took my breath away for the second year in a row.

We are careful with our expenses since we live in such an expensive city.  The cost of living in San Francisco is without mercy.  Trying to carve out a living here is like a juggling act.

Tax day is an added burden for all of us who are self-employed.  We have to pay quarterly estimates to Uncle Sam.  If we don’t he dings us with a big bill on April 15.

The mail came.  In it was a large envelope from my tax preparer.  He usually has good news for me; this year it would be bad news.

I sighed deeply when I read the summary from my professional tax preparer.  We then talked on the telephone to get some clarification.  But, the law is the law.

Rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s is not a happy moment.  Uncle Sam is no doubt looking forward to receiving our check in the mail.  I purse my lips and get ready to pop that envelope into the mail.

When government wastes millions on poor ventures I see my hard-earned dollars going down the drain.  Wealthy politicians keep getting raises, telling me how they need to spend my money and then they give empty assurances of how much relief is coming.  It sounds rather hollow as I fill up my gas tank on my way to the Post Office.

As hard as it is to keep on funding fiscally irresponsible leaders in Washington, my only recourse is to vote in November and keep on finding ways to save for payday to Uncle Sam.  It is an odd recourse.  But, God knows, He provides and gives me a chance to express my feelings in writing.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Isn’t the term “taxes” actually Greek for procrastination?  If it isn’t then maybe we can influence the Webster Dictionary to adjust its etymology of the term to match its predominant use.  “Yeah, yeah,” is my normal excuse to sitting down and getting the paper work done for this annual necessity.

This year I’m in the middle of moving.  That alone will take up a vast majority of time and energy that could be channeled to doing my taxes.  Few excuses… uh…er…reasons could be so legitimate.

It’s hard not to feel unenthused about taxes.  Generations of politicians have muddied up the waters of the national taxation plan.  No private citizen or company function in this arena of life without a great deal of chagrin. 

There are a few humans who like this time of year. Usually, they are the tax preparers with one certification or another.  But, they like numbers, details, laws, regulations and the challenge to represent their clients to the best of their ability.

My occupation doesn’t allow for a simple submission of my tax report.  On one hand, I’m self-employed.  That is both a blessing and a curse, when it comes to taxes. 

The blessing is that I am allowed to itemize my deductions and reduce my final sum of income that is subjected to Uncle Sam’s tax code.  This means that the less I make then the less can be taxed.  Ultimately, the feds recognize that to be self-employed requires a substantial amount of money to do the work that I do.

But, there is a curse too.  I have to prove each deduction with a receipt or proof of expense.  That means that I have to save all of my receipts.  No one can keep track of all those slips of paper.

After over thirty years of my kind of work, I can usually come up with 75% of the proof of expenses.  Som where along the way I lose a good number of receipts.  Usually, I lose the big receipts but somehow manage to keep all of the little ones.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am a patriot and want to do my part.  Loving the good ol’ USA flows in my veins. 

But, part of being American is individual right to pursue happiness.  What could be happier than getting as much of our taxes back for our own use?  God bless America!

photo credit: google image