Things Grownups Do

Today I had my taxes itemized for only the second time of my tax-paying life. I’ve had my taxes prepared a few times in the past — once by the father of a young man I’d taught in my developmental writing class — but when I realized that the tax men were only doing the EZ form, I went back to taking care of it myself.

Because I can usually count on a nice refund from the feds and a less-nice balance due for city and state, I used to fill out my forms and send them in … and I would always include a note with my city and state form explaining how I was going to get a federal refund and would send them some money as soon as I got that check.

I’m serious.

(I wish I could have seen the faces of the people who unfolded those notes. I imagine an IRS staffer waving the page over his or her head and calling out to everyone, “Here’s that crazy woman from Brooklyn again!” and a handful of folks would have to take a drink and one lucky person would win the office pool, having guessed the correct day and hour in which my IOU would turn up.)

And I was always true to my word. As soon as my federal refund arrived, I’d send a bit of it off to cover my city and state bill. And that’s fine, but it’s interesting to me that a) I got away with doing that year after year and b) never once in all that time did it occur to me that what I was doing wasn’t the norm, wasn’t the way everyone handled their taxes.

Finally I realized I could send in my federal forms early, get my refund and then send in a check with my city and state forms. Ah! Like the clouds parting after a storm! Why did it take me so long to figure that one out?

And then something went wrong. My account was tampered with in some way that threw up red “Identity Theft!” flags at the IRS. And that created a big enough mess that I decided I needed some professional help to sort through the whole business.

And that’s how I wound up having my most amazing tax preparation experience last year. Why haven’t I been itemizing my taxes for the last forever?

I’ve learned my lesson. I spent the last year saving every receipt for every last bit of everything, and today I sat down with my little old old-school tax man. He doesn’t use computers. Period. I can’t email him because … well, see that point about the no computers. He does everything with pencil and pen. Old. School. He appeals to my wannabe Luddite sensibilities. And he removes a major source of stress from my winter-into-spring life.

So here I am, all grown up in spite of myself. And I like being grown. I do. And I like that being grown comes with a bigger tax return! But at the same time I have to admit that I miss the comic old-fashioned-ness of my bad old days when I used to write notes to the IRS.


It’s the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by the wonderful people over at Two Writing Teachers! Every day this month, hundreds of writers will be posting their stories. Head on over and check out the other slices!

SOL image 2014

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12 thoughts on “Things Grownups Do

  1. Mandy Robek

    I don’t take care of our taxes and after reading your story I think I appreciate my other half more who does take care of this on his own for us. I love your current situation with a wonderful guide who doesn’t use technology to help. Sometimes the good old fashion way, works. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Oddly, I’ve always prided myself on doing my own taxes … but now I see that I clearly should have either learned more about how to do them so I could have been itemizing years earlier or gotten myself an account long ago! I’m glad your husband handles your taxes. It’s really nice to let someone else do it!

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this. You have a great way of injecting humor into your writing, and you write with a lot of voice. Even though you were talking about taxes, I was hooked! Here’s to “good returns”! 😉

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    1. Thanks! Up until the identity theft drama, my taxes were always easy and my silly “systems” for getting them done have always amused me. I’m glad they amused you, too!

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  3. Wow. How cool are you!!!! I have never done my own taxes ever. First it was the guy my parents used, then my brother for one or two years but when Tuvia came along I moved to his guy. All good. It’s hard enough for me to take the time and send him my deductions.
    BRAVO STACIE!!!

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  4. Welcome to the world of grownups.This is the funniest piece I’ve ever read about taxes! I’ll tell you my taxes saga some other time — some stories I can’t do short.

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    1. I should have included my sister’s response to discovering my note-writing behavior. I mentioned that I’d forgotten to include a note when I’d sent my taxes one year … and the look she gave me! That conversation was the first time I realized that other people didn’t routinely do the exact same thing! 🙂

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  5. Oh my! I would have loved to be the fly on the wall for the receiver of your notes as well. There is something incredibly charming about it, moreover that it actually worked! Welcome to Adulthood Tax 101 – let them that know it, do it – there’s a reason, and that pretty little increase is your return is why. I am equally charmed by the old school tax guy. I have this flight of fancy of a paper filled room, the scent of decades of accounting permeates the air, a bespectacled salt and peppered haired sexagenarian gentleman with pencil behind the ear, plastic visor on head, arm bands holding rolled sleeves away from inky deskpad and vintage calculator that requires pulling down a lever for totals. 😀

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