Thursday, March 26, 2009

If You Drive A Car, I'll Tax The Street

"Meeting with the accountant" is a phrase I never thought I'd use, let alone Sharpie across an Anklysaurus' face in my dinosaur day planner. That's one of the sentence fragments I've frequently filed in the Things That Don't Apply to My Life category, listing it somewhere between "Yes, I'll Be Your Life Coach" and "Ask Me About My Invisible Pores".

My dad has always handled my tax stuff but in Oh Eight the majority of my income1 came from freelancing--save for the $183 and a plantar wart I earned as a part-time toe-handler at The Foot Bucket--and he didn't know how to make the numbers look right. He explained it more eloquently, dropping terms like withholding and deductions but I admittedly wasn't paying attention since he called in the middle of a TLC program about real-life werewolves.

A couple of weeks after our one-sided chat, he mailed me an overstuffed envelope full of menacing pieces of paper, official-looking documents decorated with the state seal, and other things that I probably shouldn't have used as bookmarks. Paperclipped to the top page was a note in his familar left-handed font that said "Go find an accountant", an imperative sentence that sounded almost as ridiculous as one telling me to go find a husband. I know nothing about personal finances, have a closet full of ill-fitting illustrations of my poor money management, and never considered the I.R.S. as anything but R.E.M.'s first record label. It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel...fucked.

After ignoring Dad's envelope for several weeks, moving it only to dust the counter or to extract an errant jellybean that skidded underneath it, I decided I should probably try to find a Taxman. I trashed the Talking Phone Book last month to make room for a Costco-size carton of Cheese-Its so I had to consult the Friend-Of-A-Friend network to get a name, eventually scoring a recommendation from a guy who frequently spots me when I bench press. If I trust him to keep a hundred-plus pounds of metal from splintering my sternum, I'll gladly take his financial advice.

Fast forward to Monday morning when I had to skip an episode of SVU in favor of spending an hour visibly squirming in an office wallpapered with a pattern from Home Depot's narcolepsy collection and learning I couldn't just send the IRS a balloon bouquet and a picture of me turning my pockets inside out. During the sixty minutes I spent smudging The Accountant's glass-topped table, answering questions with a shrug and otherwise making him hate his life, I learned the following things:

  • When The Accountant asks you something, you can't say "Pass" and expect him to move to the next question.
  • My dog is not a dependent. Neither is an ovarian cyst.
  • An original Van Halen 1984 t-shirt is not considered an asset. Snapping your fingers and saying "Oh, I beg to differ, son!" does not change his mind.
  • Sleeping with that guy from Radio Shack is not a charitable contribution.
  • Your Grateful Dead-patterned Chuck Taylors are not a business expense, regardless of how many times you wore them while you worked.
  • When he asks if you have any investments, don't remove the Class of '01 graduation tassel from your rearview, dangle it in his face and say "This is an investment. IN MY FUTURE."

Doing It Wrong.

Sigh. My first attempt at doing taxes has been nothing but a reminder of how much money I don't have and how not responsible I am. The Accountant needed proof of my self-employment, things like receipts from Kinko's or love notes from my health insurance--neither of which I have--but I do inexplicably own a purse full of printouts from McDonald's documenting every McGriddle I've ever scarfed.2

"I really need a copy of your 2007 tax return," he said, carefully placing his pen beside the legal pad in front of him.

"And I really need the dinosaurs to come back to life," I told him, putting one hand over his.

He eyed my mitt like it was an expired mouse in the middle of a glue trap. "Flirting with me isn't going to help you", he said, brushing it aside and possibly wondering if he would survive if he launched himself through the window.

"OK, well, do you know who I would need to flirt with?" He stood up, smoothing invisible wrinkles out of his pants. "Because from the right distance, I can look almost attractive, especially if you see me at an intersection through my unwashed car windows...Yesterday someone honked at me."

He sighed, pulling a business card out of an engraved holder on his desk. "Just try to find those receipts, OK?"

I nodded, dropped the card in my purse, and walked out into the lobby, wondering if it was too late to get a McGriddle.

1My use of the word "income" is almost laughable, since I probably could've earned just as much money by checking the coin-return slots on the Coke machine outside the Exxon station.
2I saved the receipts in case a piece of undercooked sausage left me with a raging case of salmonella/gave me that shit Seal has/made me colorblind. That way I'd have proof to either mount a lawsuit or to get my $2.47 back.


Elizabeth said...

Lol - that is funny. Good luck trying to find your receipts!

Anonymous said...

I know it has become an unforgivable cliche to say that a song/show/celeb/sex position/etc. you happen to favor is Teh Most Awesomest song/show/celeb/sex position/etc. forever but ...

... "Taxman" is Teh Most Awesomest SONG/show/celeb/sex position/etc. 4EVAH!

I assume you are not in the 95% tax bracket GH was complaining about ("there's 1 for you, 19 for me")? Still, the Beatles probably had better tax foax than you (no offense to your dad).

I always thought it was significant and apropos that the Beatles album that starts off complaining about the taxman ends by exhorting you to "turn off your mind, relax and float downstream ... lay down all thought, surrender to the void".

Still very good advice at this time of year.

Man, when are you going to post about sex positions so I can go off on a tangent about Doin' It Doggy-style ...

... Teh Most Awesomest song/show/celeb/SEX POSITION/etc. 4EVAH?

But not with a dog, because that would be sick. Unless you (or the dog) could get a deduction out of it.

Dr Zibbs said...

You mean you just can't change the date on last years' returns?

Uh Oh.

Jaxie Fantastic said...

Hahaha, oh adventures with the accountant. I hate my accountant, but he got me money back this year so we're good.

Soda and Candy said...

I can't afford an accountant.

Does that mean I win, or you do?

Wordnerd said...

Umm, you don't know me, like, at ALL. But this is so funny I'm actually thinking of stalk - wait. Never mind.

This is funny.


JM said...

The accountant was playing hard to get. If you insist on flirting with him, tell him you need "Form 1099"...that's the form you'd need to declare freelance income. Then give him a list of everyone you can remember working for. Accountants like being put to work like that.

los_tartist said...

You kind of amaze me.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

I heart you ... BIG time!!

This shit is so friggin' funny, I could picture it in a skit.

Seriously, no smoke being blown up your arse. You in the flesh would definitely toss your ass into another tax bracket.

Mike said...

"Sleeping with that guy from Radio Shack"

WAIT! You sleep with geeks!!! We need to talk.

Drunk and Offensive said...

The most appropriate phrase for hitting on a tax accountant is "I need you to make a deduction" [then lean closer and say in your sultry voice] "in my tax shelter". He'll be all over you like you're made of balance sheets. You may have to follow up with "During any period in which there is in effect an agreement entered into pursuant to section 233 of the Social Security Act with any foreign country, the self-employment income of an individual shall be exempt from the taxes imposed by this section to the extent that such self-employment income is subject under such agreement exclusively to the laws applicable to the social security system of such foreign country. " and he'll melt.

cappy said...

"...gave me that shit Seal has..."

I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, but it sure made me laugh!

Michael said...

Brilliant, and spot on!

Maybe you can deduct the value of this compliment.

Here-I'll backdate it!

"During tax year 2008, J-Money seriously rocked my world. Fer schnizzle."

You have to say "fer schnizzle" in order for it to be deductible.

Cloven Hoof said...

Mike: Slow down there, Tonto. Don't diss us geeks so hastily. We're the kind of folk who forgive overuse of exclamation marks.

Some of us even wash and go out in daylight. The bad haircuts we generally aren't willing to compromise on, however.

Don't make me have to write a program to call you nasty names.

J-Money: Thanks for reminding me that, despite being convinced that I was good to go, I have a grand due the taxman in July. I've done my own taxes for years but always pay as late as possible (so I get the interest on the dosh, not them) and I always seem to forget until the last minute, where begins the inevitable mad rush to avoid the automatic penalty on missing the deadline kicking in.

Now I'm going to have to try to forget about it again so I can return to that wonderful state of blissful ignorance.

[And where's my email, lady? ;)]

healthy ashley said...

Your posts are my favorite things. LOL. (<--- yep, OUT LOUD)

Mike Todd said...

We referred our tax guy to a friend who, after their first meeting, threatened to report the guy to the IRS. I think that means he's the best tax guy ever.

Your blog is fantastic, btw. Sorry I couldn't think of a wittier way to express that sentiment.

Ms. Florida Transplant said...


Mike said...

Cloven Hoof: Ease up there ranger. I think you're getting your colons and semicolons mixed up. I happen to know the difference between an IMS and DB2 database. Knowing that, go back and reread my comment. said...

I "do" my taxes by penciling in rather random numbers and including my actual t-4's.
It's a little known fact that if you attempt to "do" your taxes- Revenue Canada will redo them for you with the correct amounts. For free.
I'm a lazy ass cheater that way.

Cloven Hoof said...

Mike: I kneel before Zod.

KT said...

My husband needed to know how much interest my savings account earned last year for our accountant. I almost made up a number bigger than the actual 7 CENTS. Why would I save money when I can spend it. Especially on say a McGriddle? I had one today!

Kyla said...

Hahha, hilarious :)

Anonymous said...

Ok i'm not even going to try to be clever because my fellow anon up there would just make me look bad.

You are awesome.

I Cannot believe i was not invited to the SVU marathon.

Please get better shirts.


Christy said...

Okay, J-Money, just because we're speaking of income -- because you brought it up -- I've always wondered this: You get so much praise for being such an awesome person & a fantastic writer on top of being freakin' hilarious & cute to boot. WHY OH WHY do you not put a DONATION button on your blog?!?!?! I'm not big on donating to anything, but when I love something so much that I feel I'd go through withdrawals if I didn't have it...well, I'd donate the hell outta that! Love your blog, girl, take my advice on this one!!! Maybe Tax Day '10 would be a little more tolerable.

Kate said...

It's not fair! How do you get to be so adorable and funny, too?!!

Mermanda said...

I'm with you on the dinosaurs thing. That'd be clutch. (Is that still a saying?)

G+D said...


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