Tax season doesn’t exactly warrant its own section of the Hallmark store, but if you’re like me, you are happy when your part of the preparation is complete. Mine is. I phoned our accounting firm yesterday to see how things were shaking out, and it got me thinking.
Remember this old retort we used to push back when someone told us we had to do something? I don’t have to do anything but pay taxes and die. Who knew we were quoting Benjamin Franklin? I sure didn’t. And, we could certainly debate the truth of the statement, but not today.
Speaking of Taxes
Before BF left for his trek across the country, we spent the better part of a day at the kitchen table filling out the “Client Arranger” our accountant uses to prepare our tax return. I had to re-train myself on how to upload salient documents into Box, which meant remembering passwords and bugging the patient woman at the accountant’s office twice. We calculated totals of this and that and entered them on the proper line. We sifted through receipts for donations, etc. We made a trip to the Post Office to mail a manilla envelope to Indiana. Relief.
Back in my First Life
What I refer to as “my first life” began when I married Jim Dixon in 1981 when he was a few years into building his optometric practice. Remember the recession of the early 1980’s? Let me tell you, it was not an ideal time to open a business.
These were the days when we put the client arranger together and drove to our accountant’s office and handed it to him with a stack of photocopies and receipts paper clipped together. No passwords to remember. No electronic signatures. We drank a cup of coffee and chatted while he flipped through things and made sure nothing was missing. He was about my age and his wife was also a teacher. We started our families at about the same time. He was nice. Personable. Our meeting with him was the most pleasant part of the entire process.
For a miserably long time, we didn’t have to pay taxes because there was no profit.
Until there was a profit. We sat at the big conference table that year with the same personable accountant who told us how much money we owed. It was way more money than we had and it was due in a few weeks.
We were paying the mortgage (15% interest) on a tiny, 3-bedroom house. We had a baby. I wasn’t working. It was the mid 1980’s.
I cried. And I cried.
It was a traumatic time and we worked it out somehow, but I think I carry a bit of that experience with me each time I sit down and fill out that Client Arranger, and it usually incites day drinking.
Times have changed
The personable accountant has sold his practice to a big firm and is semi-retired. We met with him last year and he assured us he’d be around through Rick’s retirement. I got a little teary when we were talking about how many years we’d been working together. He has helped me through some difficult times.
And now, people with whom I share no personal history sort through my financial information. Folks who weren’t even born the year I had my meltdown.
I miss sitting at a big conference table drinking coffee and catching up on life and kids and vacations. I miss the days when I called with a financial question and the conversation started with a sincere how are you? How are the kids? I miss the days when we photocopied everything and carried it to the accountant in an actual physical “box,” rather than uploading to Box.
Waiting to hear from the corporate entity who assured me our return would be finished as soon as two more people sign off on it. People who have never sat across a conference table from me. People who know my kids simply as “no longer dependents.” I’ll write a check if I need to or sign off to have any overages go toward next year’s return. No drama or trauma. Just something I have to do along with a bit of nostalgia.