I accidentally uttered this recently while trying to say “procrastination.” It was a Freudian slip, less a regressive childhood parapraxis and more a trauma related to the Internal Revenue Service, as one has. However, this slip revealed an abiding truth.
See, paying taxes puts the FUN in functional society, and I’ve never missed a deadline. That does not mean, under any circumstances, I’ve ever filed early. On time and early are totally different things.
Does this sound like you? Come, kin, rally around.
Tax Day is April 18 this year, three days late due to Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia. Last year, the pandemic drew out Tax Day to May 17, which was like Christmas for procrastin… progresstinators.
“Wouldn’t you rather get it out of the way?” a responsible, punctual person might ask. “Get your return early? Have more time to pay? Move on, heal?”
Definitely not. To quote tax collector Friedrich Nietzsche, “Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?” No one is guaranteed tomorrow. If I don’t make it, that’s not great, but it also means I will have gotten out of doing taxes. Whose strategy sounds better now?
Progresstination, though, is pointless progress. It’s a way to feel like a productive member of civilization, completing little tasks adjacent to taxes without actually doing taxes. Apply this philosophy liberally to cleaning bathrooms, renewing government identifications and having difficult personal discussions that include I-statements such as, “When you do __, it makes me feel __.”
Identify tax documents in the kitchen stack of mail sorted as “important.” That stack has slumped into the pile that’s “unimportant, but probably good to shred because of identity theft.” That has in turn slumped into “unimportant, can go in recycling bin” — a bin, which, unbelievably, is just steps away from this pile, and yet. This special pile includes catalogs for Viking River Cruises and expensive puffer vests one might wear in a canoe.
There. Having secured all vital tax forms, move them somewhere more official such as an end table, a decorative chair or one of 40 empty filing folders you bought at Office Depot when you decided to get organized in 2012. That was a cute day.
Visit the website for your preferred tax software. Test your username, PIN number and password. It has 17 letters, four non-consecutive numbers and a special character (excluding question marks, too on the nose). Failing log-in, close the window. To quote IRS commissioner Don Draper, “Think about it. Deeply. Then forget it.”
Read several articles titled “What to know for Tax Day” and initiate panic over capital gains, dividends, interest, home office expenses, 1099 forms and alleged letters regarding advance child tax credits and stimulus payments. Go back to the mail pile, which somehow now contains a new catalog of stylish polyester pants for women of a certain age.
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Take a break for snacks!
Lastly, set intentions. Identify a time you WILL do your taxes. Set up a reward for yourself, other than the intrinsic one that comes with doing a civic duty at the last possible second. State it boldly: “I intend to do my taxes after the Target run, but before eating an entire pint of Chubby Hubby.”
I am so proud of you.
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