Tax time… for many, those words bring fear and panic, but I personally love this time of year. As a middle class married homeowner and parent, I fall in to the category of people who receive a nice return each spring. Perhaps it's my type A personality that enjoys collecting each form required and filling in every square on the paperwork. Tearing open the mail to find a 1099 or W-2 is akin to an adult report card to me - how did I do last year?
It wasn't always this way. As dual income married renters with no kids, it seemed my husband and I were paying a penance for being professionally successful. My weekly paychecks were like Christmas each Thursday until the next spring when I would be faced with how I had underpaid my taxes and now owed a small fortune (or so it felt). And as I had vastly different financial situations through my twenties - promotions, full-time employee to full-time student, single to married - I had been unable to calculate ahead and adjust withholdings for the coming year. Then in a matter of a few short years, we were married and homeowners and parents, and the tax gods smiled upon us. And it was good.
I used to wonder how people could like tax time, as it meant a payout for me in my younger days. Now I understand. I even enjoy filing my own taxes these days. While I am sure there are a number of cases when having an accountant crunch my numbers and maneuver the tax laws will be beneficial, at this point in my life I rather like plugging figures in to software and seeing what each deduction is for. How else would I know that I can deduct the cost of my car registration in my state? That dropping a bag of old clothes at the Salvation Army can help my year end result? That my zoo membership is a charitable contribution? Knowing more about how and why my taxes are calculated gives me the feeling of control over my money. It's almost like a secret handshake, to smugly know during the year that small decisions now can make a big impact next April.
So here I sit, watching the local news fret about the impending tax deadline, and I smile. My taxes were filed weeks ago. The returns have been distributed to bills and savings accounts and the like. We even just installed the new TV we picked up as our "tax treat". The weatherman says tomorrow will be cold and rainy, yet I will think happily about the tax deduction on my new efficient HVAC system as my thermostat is nudged up. Yes, there are countless hours of discussion about where my tax dollars go, good necessary discussion about the role of government and the rights of the individual and handouts and loopholes and fiscal responsibility. But the only tea party in my house today is the one in my coffee mug.
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