Saturday, October 10, 2009
I'm in middle of doing my taxes for the drop-dead deadline of Oct 15. I can almost never make the April 15 deadline because April is academic conference time and this year I missed the Aug 15 deadline as well.
I don't mind paying taxes at all. In fact, I think that I should be paying more taxes. It's the bookkeeping and clerical work I mind. I'd pay a thousand or two more just to avoid it. Go to a tax accountant? Doesn't help because you have to keep the records and receipts and bring this stuff to them. Doing the tax forms is the least of my problems. It's saving and organizing all that paper that drives me mad. Like death, taxes are inevitable but, as Woody Allen said (of death) I'm not afraid of it--I just don't want to be around when it happens.
Dear US Government: take my money! Take as much as you think reasonable, because I trust you. Just leave me out of it!!!
This is part and parcel of my program of general laziness. I want things done and I will pay to get them done--I just don't want to know the details. I go to my dentist, who insists on giving me a running commentary on bone loss and preaches about flossing. I don't want to hear this: just shut up and fix my teeth. I get my house cleaned every two weeks. Xtreme Cleaning does a wonderful job. When they come I leave a check on my desk and go somewhere else until they're finished. I've been at other people's houses when their cleaners come and I'm amazed, and appalled, to see them follow the cleaners around bugging them to limpiar this that and the other thing. This behavior is not only insulting to cleaners, who I assume are better at cleaning than I am because they're professionals at cleaning and I'm not, but it makes hiring cleaners largely pointless: the whole point of hiring cleaners is not having to think about cleaning--at least that's the whole point for me.
So now I'm doing my taxes. I've just finished Charitable Deductions--valuing ever bit of junk I gave to the Salvation Army--and am about to go to Professional Expenses, the big one for me where I list expenses for books, journals, professional society dues, conference registration and all that stuff. And I think I get to do home office but I have to check into that. I've only had 2 drinks so far but I am in misery. Why in hell can't I have the option of taking some standard deduction for academics? There are enough of us and we all have more or less the same expenses. I'm not even eligible to do the short form and the standard deduction is unrealistically low because the assumption is that any professional person with an upper middle class income will itemize.
To add insult to injury, the Feds have all the information they want about me. My employer reports to them; BofA reports to them; Charles Schwab reports to them; T. Rowe Price reports to them. They know what I do for a living and could easily come up with a realistic figure for the average academic's professional expenses. Why can't they just take my money and leave me alone?
I realize that this isn't what everyone wants and I have no problem with their getting what they want. But I want some choice here. Fix my teeth! Clean my house! Take my money! Just leave me out of it!!!