The Lighter Side of Income Taxes

Why is it that every April I feel like a criminal? I break out in a cold sweat the minute I file my taxes, and jump at every knock on the door. I’m sure it’s the IRS coming to take my house.

Is it because I overstated the cash I placed in the collection plate? Or conveniently forgot to add in some tips? No. It’s because I am convinced that, in spite of tediously careful recording and filing, I am sure that I have messed up on my taxes.

I live terror that I’m doing something wrong. I don’t report anything I don’t have a receipt for. I am reluctant to claim my Salvation Army donations. What if the IRS auditor doesn’t think my twice-worn Liz Claibourne blazer is worth the two bucks I claimed?

My husband and a partner own their own company through what’s called and ‘S’ corporation. This means the income is reported on our personal taxes based on a Schedule K1. This is a lengthy form that we get from the accountant that shows his portion of the profits. His office is in our home and he drives his car for business. In addition, we have investments and give to charity. We own our house. Oh. And the partner? He lives in another state, where the corporation is based. So we pay taxes to two states.

I do them myself, using Turbo Tax. But even then, you have to know what they are talking about. And I sometimes feel that their documentation was written by Stephen Hawking. I keep threatening to have an accountant do it. But I have to gather and record all the information anyway. And the people who use Turbo Tax on the TV commercials are always smiling. So how hard can it be?

After I’ve entered everything and Turbo Tax has completed the calculations, I review the forms to make sure I didn’t make any stupid mistakes, like adding an extra zero anywhere. I usually find something. This year, on the first try, I managed to report the cost basis of the 6 year old business auto we traded in for $3900 as $63,000. An hour of scouring the worksheets fixed that. Last year I underreported the estimated taxes we paid to one of the states.

What this means is there must be something wrong somewhere that I didn’t find. And the IRS is going to lose patience with me. And when they do, I hope I can plead ignorance and pay the interest and keep my house. To be on the safe side, we bought a second house this year. They can’t take both houses, can they?