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Chuck Hinman: IJMA No. 304, A Happy Ending Story

It's Just Me Again No. 304: A Happy Ending. Income Tax Preparation
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by Chuck Hinman

This will be of special interest to those who prepare their own income tax returns. I itemize deductions which increases the return preparation time and nervous apprehension over the "figure on the bottom line."

If your "thing" for cheap thrills is riding roller coasters, let me recommend that you prepare your own income tax return. For extra thrills, wait until one hour before the return is due at the post office! Wheee!

Over the years it was a toss-up whether we would get a little money back, or owe a dab. If we owed, it was never an amount causing me to have to consider selling the farm to pay. I would just groan, write a check and head for the post office, and wait in the "drop line" outside waving between yawns at my procrastinating friends.

Everyone in our household had gone to bed and I was sitting at the kitchen table burning the midnight oil waiting apprehensively for some early clues as to what the bottom line would reveal -- i.e., whether we would get a refund or would owe some.

It DID make a difference. Like many, we lived from paycheck to paycheck.

In those days, my tax return preparation method was very primitive; I had neither a typewriter nor simple calculator. It was just me, a fountain pen, the kitchen table, and a simple overhead light.

When I was beginning to zero in on the bottom line, I began to have a sinking feeling that the figures were unusually large!

But I nervously moved on line by line -- sweating slightly! And it wasn't summertime.

Finally, I could see what the figure was -- it was horrible - something like we owed $800.00! I felt like I was going to faint! And this was just the federal return! I hadn't even started the state return! I was saying loudly, "No! No! NO!" Even Andy, our black cocker spaniel stirred restlessly! He was lying touching my feet as he always did!

If it was correct, I didn't have that kind of money in my checking account and I needed to take the return and the check to the Post Office downtown in less than an hour!

I was so distraught that I got this funny feeling like my scalp was crawling -- it itched terribly and no amount of scratching eased the discomfort.

I got up and walked outside for some fresh air and tried to figure out what to do.

The cool air calmed me slightly and I sat down and went over the return beginning with where the computations began.

YEAH! There it is! It didn't take long to discover I had made a sizable error in calculation! It was comforting at this point but I didn't know how it would affect the bottom line!

Sure enough, when I retraced my computations, I don't remember whether we owed, or got money back, but it certainly was not a figure like $800.00. -Chuck Hinman
The next earlier Chuck Hinman column: Life before Tv?

This story was posted on 2011-03-27 04:44:43
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