Today, while some roust out St. Patrick’s Day finery, and leprechauns, others face a devil’s chore. It’s income tax time in the United States.
I do not resist taxes, in principle. The only good response to inherited privilege is a gracious paying of one’s dues. But I downright despise the process of getting a check in the mail.
I confess I have no right to complain. I have never, not once in all my born days, calculated taxes myself. When I was young, if I remember correctly, the trust bank did them for me. Eventually, one accountant or another. I like the woman who does them now, she’s practical and funny. She went through divorce, right about when I did.
The trust bank of my past had large quiet elevators, and swooshing doors. Beige carpets, lit with Atlantic sun through tall windows. I recall the artifacts of money in the same way I remember childhood beaches. By sense. Substitute the metallic smell of printed financials for the tang of sunscreen. We were a Sea and Ski family. Others swore by Coppertone. We drove Fords, not Chevrolets.
I might have gotten better about taxes, over the years, but instead I got worse. The realities of a fading family fortune and a need to work to live might have brought rigor, but they didn’t. I’m absolutely terrible at arithmetic, allergic to spreadsheets. I don’t even do the preliminary sheets accountants give you to fill out. I amass an unruly pile of papers and hand them over to people in offices, feeling mild dread even at that simple process.
Let’s be honest. There’s only so much enlightenment, deconstruction, and refining of moral fiber, any one person can manage. Right? I’ve given up on tax prep. Surely I’m not alone? We’ll substitute getting better at kindness, and bargain hunting, OK? I will cook the fairy of diligence and accuracy dinner instead. Fair deal.
I do take pride, however, in the fact that my daughter does her taxes herself. Go you new generation, I stand to applaud. And must now start hunting for the pile of envelopes marked, ominously, IMPORTANT 2011 TAX INFORMATION. Of course it’s important, you fiends you.
Have a lovely weekend.