A taxing day

The numbers fly in-and-out of my thoughts, bumping into each other, zooming this way and that. I can’t stop stressing over things like taxable income, tax withholdings, standard deductions, and tax brackets. If they sound like jargon, you would be right. Now I’m sure the accountants and tax professionals in the crowd are salivating, but for the rest of us, they’re enough to bring on a migraine. 

The technical terms and the numbers have been flying around in my stressed-out brain. I try to put them out of my mind, away in a corner somewhere, but I can’t. Of course, I’m talking about completing my income tax return. In the United State, you need to file your federal income tax returns around April 15 of each year.

Blood, sweat, and tears

I took a weekend recently to work on my taxes. It was earlier than usual for me, but I figured it was best to get them out of the way. I started them while my wife was away one weekend in February and then spent another Saturday in March reviewing everything, before we hit the send button on my laptop.

The process of doing our taxes is never a fun one. In fact, it’s kind of strange writing about taxes on a site that focuses on what matters most in life. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t consider taxes all that important. They’re a pain in the you know where, but I’m puzzled how annoying things like taxes, or work obligations, or financial worries have a way of pushing out the things that bring us joy and happiness and take over our lives.

Why does that happen? How do we let that happen?

I always seem to make the tiniest of tax-related tasks difficult and give it more weight and importance than necessary. If a section looks like it’s going to take minutes to complete, I’m sure to take two hours. I use basic tax planning software that helps you with “it’s so easy to do, a dummy can do it” steps, but I still find ways to make it harder than it needs to be. I’ll spend hours looking for deductions that will help lower our tax burden. I’ll stress and procrastinate. I’ll even grill my wife like she’s a trained Certified Public Accountant with 20 years of tax experience and not really a teacher and tax novice like me.

Oh, it’s all so much fun!

Weekend at Bernies

I’m not sure why I worry so much about taxes. I suspect it’s because I still remember what it was like when I was a kid to not have money or a safety cushion and to regularly worry about one bad move sending my family over the edge. I may have looked like a kid, but I somehow took on adult worries.

I’m not sure anyone else will get the reference, but when I’m psyching myself to review our taxes, I’ll often think of the 1989 movie, Weekend at Bernies. In the comedy, a pair of corporate peons try to pretend that their murdered boss is really alive but the murderer is out to finish him and them off. They even sit him upright at a party like nothing has happened. (Wouldn’t the dead body smell?)

I think of the movie, because it’s stupid writing and one lamebrain attempt after another to avoid trouble, sort of like me trying to do our taxes correctly, all the while trying to make sure that I get to keep everything that we deserve.

Time to pay the Piper

When I got recently to the last step and the software helped me come up with the final figure, it was about what I expected. It wasn’t great mainly because no one was knocking at my door to give me a million dollars, but it also wasn’t horrible. When I sent them off electronically, I let out huge sigh. I felt like someone had taken a 100-pound pack off my back.

My worries about doing my taxes had been crushing my joy. I’m guessing here, but I think my wife was tired of my shtick too. When she thought I was out of earshot, she started to call me “Grumpy” from the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and once even called me “Little Napoleon.” Now, I’m just spitballin’ there, but I’m pretty sure she had had her fill of me.

Yes, I still have to deal with a few numbers floating in my head, but as far as the Federal Government cares, I’m a citizen in good standing. No more worries. Now I can get back to what really matters in my life. Hallelujah, at least for another 365 days. 

A Dummies Guide to Taxes:

–“Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” —Benjamin Franklin

–“Tax day is the day that ordinary Americans send their money to Washington, D.C., and wealthy Americans send their money to the Cayman Islands.” —Jimmy Kimmel 

–“A tax loophole is something that benefits the other guy. If it benefits you, it is tax reform.” —Russell B. Long

–“Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list.” —Snoopy, aka, Charles Schulz


Thank you for reading. Please follow the HoTM site and join in on the discussion. In addition, please visit my personal blog at www.writingfromtheheartwithbrian.com or follow me on Instagram at @writingfromtheheartwithbrian.

All the best, Brian.

Images by Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels.

30 thoughts on “A taxing day

  1. Ugh! Tax season is always the worst. I remember eons ago a good friend applied for a job at the IRS. She was subjected to a high stress panel interview with five or six people that went on for hours. How fortunate we are that our time dabbling with the IRS is short-lived.

    Bask the post-filing aura and let the joy wash over you. It’s time to relax. You’ve earned it!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Visiting a 3rd world country years ago, the tangible poverty shocked me. Yet, these people with literally nothing in terms of material things, appeared admirably content, and genuinely happy. They weren’t burdened with mortgages, car payments, credit card debt, the performance of their investment portfolios, taxable gains or losses … they had none!
    Then it struck me . . . maybe it was this “just a little more” American who had the problem, and the verse “Of whom much is given, much is required” both humbled and convicted me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, Fred, this is great perspective. Love that quote too. It’s always good to have perspective on “good” we have it. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve continued to do my own taxes, so that I have the perspective on how much we take in and how much we spend and how we can give back more. Thanks so much for your perspective.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I understand the angst Brian, even though I have a CFP do my taxes every year since my 30’s. During the times of young kids it was always the question- a refund or a payment- and if a payment where does it come from! I am now in the season of life that it’s pretty clear just how much I can live on each month and stay payment free- which sadly isn’t very much so I foresee a tax bill each year going forward. The refunds were nice while they lasted! My thought is to always be prepared to pay and then be joyfully surprised when a refund shows up!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good old Ben only had it two-thirds right with the death and tax thing—there’s a third, and it is change. Sooner or later, all things change. Maybe if I change my mind about the dreaded tax pay-up (pay-off?), next year won’t be so bad. Meanwhile, by gosh and by golly, I’m gonna get down on my knees and thank God that I have a competent tax pro to do the job for me so that I don’t have to wring my hands over trying to do the job myself. Otherwise, I might land myself in debtor’s prison due to extreme ignorance.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, Julia, I’ve taken my taxes in the past to a tax pro. I guess I should do that again. I just hate paying when our taxes really are pretty simple. We’re not the Rockefeller’s or Carnegies. I’ve kept doing them because I knew I would still get annoyed and involved, but maybe it’s time to throw in the towel and let it go! Ha, ha. Anyway, I’m done until next year.


      1. What’s your definition of simple? For me, if I have to do anything more than sign my name it’s complicated. You’re looking at the girl who nearly flunked 4th grade arithmetic here . . .

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Only you, my dear friend Brian, could bring smiles to the topic of taxes. Especially this — which I’d never heard before…but LOVE from Snoopy: “Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list.” Let me know if you have any ‘intell” about that as an actual option! 😉🤣😉

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Each year, I pay a CPA $80 while I sit back for an hour as he confirms my bank account, address, etc. It’s the best money spent. No stress!

    But here’s the real question, Brian: If your wife is a CPA, why is she standing back and calling you “Grumpy” while you struggle through the numbers? You’re just a really great husband, right? 😉


  7. I always try to get on top of the tax requirement as soon as the last related document has been forwarded or made available to me. I do like doing them myself, and while they can be a bit time consuming, I think it is time well spent to understand the filings. Tried third-party services on a couple of occasions, but that lack of control didn’t appeal to me and I went back to handling the duties myself. A major reason why it is less stressful for me is I do try to have the withholding during the year be as accurate as possible. Don’t want to owe any more at (tax) year’s end, Brian!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly Bruce. I’ve had others do them, but it feels so silly paying someone when our taxes are pretty simple in the grand scheme of things. If I went to someone, I would still make them just as difficult. Plus, I feel like I have a better handle on them. You’re right about getting the withholding correct. Don’t want to owe and don’t want a big return, when I could have been using that money throughout the year. Ugh. I’m just glad they’re done now.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. First of all – congratulations on getting those done, Brian! And I love the quotes.

    I think you did a great job of relating how these things can steal our joy. That somehow they grow so big to suck all the air up in the room – usually because they contain those stressors that you describe and arouse very little curiosity. I applaud you for recognizing that as you plowed through and move on to better stuff!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We’re on the same “writing” page Wynne. From a pure writing standpoint, I think I should have played up more the graph on how taxes steal our joy . . . I feel like it got lost a little. Yes, an okay piece on taxes, but I think there could have been a deeper story on how we lose focus sometimes on what matters. How things like taxes take up all the air. How that happens, etc. ….. Ha, ha, everyone is a critic, even the writer of a piece!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Taxes sound like a real chore/bore, Brian. I’m very glad I don’t have to do them, mainly because I’m not a wage earner. I only receive my disability benefit and a small annuity. I might not have much to manage, but I’m certainly pleased I don’t have taxes to deal with yearly. I think, if I were unfortunate enough to have that job to do, I’d be inclined to ask an accountant to do them for me. I’d be too worried about making a mistake and getting into trouble. I’m pleased for you that they’re all done for this year, at least, and now you can now concentrate on doing more enjoyable things. Well done for surviving the annual tax nightmare.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You are indeed a creative soul to create a post on taxes – well done!!! Love this – “Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list.” —Snoopy, aka, Charles Schulz”

    Liked by 1 person

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