Apr 14, 2010

I would be so much better off as an accountant

Today I did what is probably the singular most nerdy thing I do all year—I sat down with two pencils, some whiteout, and a calculator, and did my taxes. I started doing them a few years ago because I didn't want to pay someone to do what I imagined I could probably figure out myself, and even though it would be a stretch to describe what I do with taxes as having much to do with figuring anything out—the whole thing remains a massive bureaucratic mystery to me—I kept doing them because it turned out I really liked it. There are so few tasks in life that offer such clearly defined endpoints, and when I find one I stick with it.

This not to say that I do my taxes well. I certainly don't do them quickly. But gradually I've gotten a little better. This year things went smoothly enough, even though the instructions on the state forms were predictably ridiculous. "If Section B line 14 is greater than Section A line 6, subtract line 32 from 31 on Form 1 and place the result both on Section B line 8 and on Form 1 line 33." There really was one line just like that. Although I should probably point out that last year I thought things went smoothly enough too, but over the next few months the IRS informed me of not just one but three mistakes. I am sure people at the IRS hate people like me.

But however things turn out, I got through them, and a little over six hours later, I was signing things and addressing envelopes. Tomorrow I will send them off, and this will mark the first time in my whole life that my taxes have gotten done on time.

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