Sunday, April 24, 2005


They say that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. All I know is that I'm UN-certain about how I did my taxes, and it's got me scared to death.

April 13th might have been a nice spring day. The sun may have been shining, birds may have been chirping, kids may have been laughing, and the woman of my dreams may have been frolicking in a sun dress in a meadow somewhere outside my apartment. I couldn't tell you for certain. I couldn't see through the avalanche of spreadsheets.

Yes, as another step towards my ultimate goal of being named Most Irresponsible Person Alive, I decided that the best time to do my taxes would be two days before they were due.

My friends have had their returns for ages, and are probably off doing responsible, grown-up stuff with their money right now. Well heck, I can be grown up, too. In fact, I've got a great deal of money invested into CD's. I particularly like the ones by Jay-Z.

Once upon a time, taxes were almost fun to do. You fill out a quick little form, drop it in the mail, and presto, a few weeks later some extra money magically appears. Then I had to go and get myself a hobby.

As regular readers of my column know, I spend my weekends DJ'ing at a club in the District. Without doubt, this is the greatest hobby a human could find. I get to sit in an elevated perch at a hip nightclub, choose all the songs that are played, and get paid to spend the whole night watching cute girls dance. I should be paying THEM for the privilege.

DJ'ing for me really IS a hobby. When everything's said and done, I don't make a dime at it. Every cent that I get paid for DJing goes right back into it (music, equipment, computers, etc.) Yet strangely, the IRS still refers to it as one of those "job" thingies, and are strangely insistent that I have to pay taxes. Grr.

I have always been mathematically challenged. I count on my fingers to this day. Ergo, there was no way I could fill out any of these self-employment tax forms on my own. So, as I do every year, I went online and paid to have a company walk me through it. This is why I was confident in waiting until two days before the deadline to file my taxes.

The miracle of modern technology makes it easy to get your refund. You just log on, enter the information off the ol' W-2... add on the info from the self-employment... make a few mouse clicks... and... presto, you owe $1195.

Errr... pardon me? I OWE?? Obviously, my computer had a virus. I've NEVER owed taxes in my life. It couldn't be right, so I re-checked the form meticulously... same result. I erased the entire form and started over. Same results. Suddenly, it's getting hot in my apartment. I'm beginning to realize that they're called the INTERNAL Revenue Service because when they tell you that you owe them $1195, your INTERNAL organs begin to fail.

I'm pulling at my collar as my mind races through a series of troubling questions, such as: 'What is the depreciation value of a record needle?' 'Can I write off headphones?,' and 'How quickly can I flee to Canada?' Finally, cooler heads prevailed, and I did the mature and responsible thing.
I called my mommy.

While my mom isn't a tax guru herself, she DID offer one important suggestion: try another online tax service. So I restarted from scratch at another company, entered all the same stuff, and this service tells me I'm getting a $600 REFUND. Guess which online tax service I chose to go with?

But now I'm sweating. ONE of them is obviously wrong. I'm hoping it's the first service I tried. I'm usually not that lucky. Any minute now, some serious looking dudes in serious looking suits are going to burst through my door and demand their $1195, I know it. When that happens, I trust YOU, my faithful fans, to mount a serious letter-writing and/or fundraising campaign to free me from tax jail. Until that moment, or until my happy little return shows up in my mail, I remain nervously yours.

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