It’s now mid April and as most Americans know, the pain is now over. Our tax returns are filed and we are safe for another year. In my old life, B.C. (before Child) tax season was its own separate entity. It was the accountant’s equivalent of an eight week period. You were tired, cranky, sleep deprived, and wanted to kill strangers. The difference was having to keep track of how much time you spent on everything and chasing the same people for the same missing information as last year. I had worked for an independent practitioner part time during tax season to pick up some extra money and keep my hand in my chosen profession. It became as much fun as sticking forks in my eyes.
My family and friends got used to me disappearing for long stretches and knew better than to expect much during that time.
Taxation as a profession is a great cure for insomnia as well as an exercise in masochism. On closer inspection, you could think, ‘Hey, it can’t be that bad, what with computers doing most of the work right?’ Herein lies the rub. Accountants are a rather anal lot. We like things correct. It’s also a great job for control freaks, unless you work for one, (more on that later). Computers, helpful as they are, can only assist to the extent they are programmed correctly. That is to say, you still have to know what you want your tax return to look like, the trick is choking it out of the software.
Knowing what you want your return to look like is where things get to be too much fun for humans. You are chasing a moving target that even programmers who work on this for a living can’t keep up with. We have those weak members of the heard, Congress, to thank for that. Not only have we given these bozos the power to change the tax law, they have to unmitigated gaul to make some of these changes retroactive. For those masochists who enjoy this sort of thing, the upside is a fountain of employment opportunities. Someone’s got to file those amended returns.
It’s funny to hear politicians say we need a flat tax. How do you think our current mess started? I’d give that about three months before some group starts whining.
That is only one part of the stress. Then there’s the bonus layer on the crap sandwich, other people. I mentioned that this is a great profession for megalomaniacs. I once had the misfortune to work with one and had a stereotypical boss on top of it. I can tell you the woman in question was brilliant as a colleague but had the people skills of a shoe. My boss was useless, too. I stink at office politics I also don’t do well micromanaged and being cut out of chances for growth was not helping. I lasted about two tax seasons and was not invited back. I miss that job like you’d miss a mammogram.
The brokerage houses and sometimes payroll companies are also not much better. The law currently says that interest and dividend forms are due out to taxpayers by January 31st. Shouldn’t you be able to file your return by then and thus either get your refund faster or end the nightmare sooner? Not so fast, after completing my parent’s return every year since 1994ish I have learned that we never mail that thing until the first week of April. Why? My parents get at least 1 amended interest and dividend form in mid March every year. We’ve gotten so used to it, I use the first one as a ballpark. I am not losing sight of the fact that my mother gets brokerage statements and can afford to retire. I just find that a brokerage house with more money than God not having its shit together is annoying from a customer service standpoint.
Here I sit, wondering what to be when I grow up, and looking for part time work ideas. I suppose I’m available to help people on extension, but I’m definitely open to other suggestions.