Well, it’s more a whinge about adulting. Two whinges. At least.
So it’s tax time in the US. Let me share with you, for a moment, how that makes me feel.
Now in the UK, I could set aside an afternoon, and almost invariably just run through the nice colourful form with helpful guidance on it and with my minimal understanding of tax law get to the end*. Once I stopped running a business, after a while, the nice tax people wrote to me and said “please stop doing tax forms, we’ll sort it all out”. Or words to that effect.
So I’d get a nice single page statement every year, and sometimes there’d be a rebate, and sometimes there wasn’t. Every so often I’d have to remind them that I’m a nurse, and so please give me the allowance for the cost of shoes and socks and nursing registration.
It was, it turns out, a golden period in my life.
Because now I get the US tax forms which are a nightmare crafted from the finest evil.
Now I get to navigate ‘guidance’ that looks like this:
Yes, that really is meant to be helpful. It’s doubly helpful because it turns out when we bought our land we didn’t get the relevant variant of 1099 (because all the forms here have random numbers assigned by using the particular shade of grey defined by a random hair on a dog walking past the office at 3:17 on the previous Tuesday was), but instead some sort of tax summary, which doesn’t appear to have the numbers we require.
Well, it might do, but the tax forms here reference the box number on the 1099 (which, may I remind you, we don’t have); and the form we do have doesn’t have box numbers on.
So after 3 hours of pain and torment largely like this:
We have given in and decided to go and get a tax preparer to do our tax return. Which is fucking dumb. It’s not like we have a hugely complex tax liability going on. We have jobs in which we’ve paid tax. We sold a single piece of land. That’s it. That’s all we need to report.
And it really rubs in how much the gov’t here has been coopted by corporations. Because tax preparation doesn’t have to be this complex – but lobbyists from tax-prep companies have deliberately made it utterly opaque so they can keep profiting. And it adds to a general feeling of being unvalued as a member of society.
It also makes me utterly miserable, because this year we were reasonably prepared. We didn’t have the forms out for the land sale (honestly, I’d forgotten that we’d need to report it – since it’s reported to the IRS anyway, I really feel they ought to do the donkey work of working out taxes). But unlike most previous years where we’ve scrabbled around flinging paperwork trying to find all the relevant bits like tornado hitting a library, this year we were relatively on it.
And I must admit, this year more than any other I resent paying taxes. I deeply resent paying to commit genocide. I resent paying to piss money away on Trump playing golf. I resent money going to build a giant fucking lawn ornament. I resent subsidising the destruction of the environment.
And I know, you don’t get to choose how your tax money is spent. Plenty of republicans resented paying for other people’s children to be educated, and for people to be lifted out of abject poverty, and for the attempts to ameliorate the harm of grinding inequalities in society. And the UK has committed plenty of evil acts with my tax money. We’ve sold weapons to horrendous regimes, waged wars with impunity. I don’t get to hop up on my high horse and lecture anyone about behaving like a decent country.
But it’s never been so clearly laid out to me before. And that makes me feel even shittier about spending over $100 to get someone to prepare our taxes, so we can pay more taxes (because we know that’s coming), to make sure that trump can continue to wipe his arse on unicorn fur and traumatise vulnerable kids.
*I did give myself a migraine when I was running a business trying to do taxes with my business partner who’d thrown away a bunch of receipts. Long story.