The Wife and the tax compromise

I wasn’t giving to charity because it was deductible, I was giving because I was called to do so.

1040sc_Page_1I’m playing cards (hearts) the day after my birthday, and someone mentioned preparing taxes. I noted that the Wife and I get someone else to do it for us. My friend did not understand. “It’s EASY with TurboTax” or some other software. I repeated that we outsource our tax prep because it was best for us to do so. My reaction was perceived as passionate, maybe even heated, although it did not feel that way to me. It was just what we do to ensure domestic tranquility.

For one thing, I don’t think doing the taxes is that simple, like this post I came across notes. By the time you’ve gathered all the papers necessary to plug into some tax software, most of the crappy work that needs to be calculated has already been done.

The first year we filed together was a nightmare for me and a real irritant for her. Here’s why: I had NEVER filled out an itemized tax form in my life. I had used Form 1040A, or, often Form 1040EZ, which is, as it suggests, easy.

The Wife, conversely, had a rental property that involved filling out a Schedule C for income gain or loss on a business.

She also calculated her charitable deductions, including the value of the non-cash donations. Not only could I not be bothered to do that in the past, but I also had a philosophical aversion to it. I wasn’t giving to charity because it was deductible, I was giving because I was called to do so. There are a couple of friends of mine who run a Catholic charity which is, pointedly, NOT a 501(c) tax-deductible charity under IRS law, and they expect people to donate based on their heart, not as a tax haven. NOW I do it because my spouse thinks it’s fiscally prudent, and despite my antipathy for doing so, we do.

Those first two years of filing taxes, which took FOREVER, we got slapped with penalties for underpaying somehow. After that, we got someone else to do the work. Actually at least one of THOSE years, we paid too little again, but we were only responsible for the amount, NOT the penalty and interest, which came out of the pockets of the accountant.

The Wife and I are celebrating 15 years of marriage today, and one of the reasons is that we found a way not to make ourselves crazy each April.