From Scott Thompson. Follow Scott on Twitter @foureyedblond or email him at thompson[AT]@borderstan.com.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the moment one comes to peace with being single, Tax Day arrives.
This year, as I feared, proved no exception.
It all began last night, midway through my 29th year of being single. Once again, I found myself staring at my laptop with my W-2 Form in one hand and a bottle of $8 chardonnay in the other. As I logged into the H&R Block website, I remained mildly hopeful that this year — at last — the Powers That Be at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had re-evaluated their nefarious treatment of single Americans.
Per tradition, my hopes were dashed the moment my eyes landed on the “Year in Review” page.
“Hello! We’re glad you’re back. Let’s talk about what happened in your life over the past year. You can make changes to anything that you imported from last year as we go through your return. Check any that apply.”
It’s as if H&R Block had recorded every conversation that we singletons have to endure at family reunions and weddings and transcribed them word for word.
Marital Status: Got Married? Got Divorced or Separated?
Real Estate: Bought a House? Sold a House? Inherited Property?
Family Life: Had a Baby? Adopted a Child? Had a death in the family?
Negative. (Is one more favorable?)
Medical Bills: Had a major illness or dental or medical expense?
Ask me in an hour.
If H&R Block and the IRS had any decency, they would create a pop up box after the “Year In Review” section that says, “We’re sorry to hear that your dating and financial situation appears to be exactly the same as it was last year. Please accept this Total Wine coupon on our behalf and enjoy the spring flowers.”
But no, the government-endorsed emotional gauntlet has only just begun.
Tell us about your dependents. If you’re not sure if someone qualifies as your dependent, add the person and we’ll help you figure it out.
Does the owner of Peking Garden qualify?
Income – Please check all that apply:
Wages: In theory.
Real Estate: Haven’t we covered this?
Investments and Other Income: During the past year, I invested in a new bike, but then sold it for grocery money on Craigslist after someone stole my front wheel. Does any of that count?
Adjustments, Deductions, and Credits lower the amount of money the IRS will tax. Check any that apply in 2011.
This is where emotional abuse morphs into unforgivable mockery. Not because of what doesn’t count as deductions — but rather what DOES count.
Causality or Theft Loss
And so on…
In other words, if I had married the wrong person, got divorced, broken my leg, had my TV stolen, purchased a car, or reforested the small square plot of dirt sandwiched between my front stoop and the street, I would owe less in taxes.
It shouldn’t be this way. In my mind, 2011 was a very successful year. Within a 12-month time span, I ran a 10-miler, wasn’t fired, survived two weddings, learned how to bake scones, and narrowly avoided burning my apartment building down when I forgot to unplug the iron.
Where are the deductions, credits, and congratulations for those achievements? Nowhere. In the eyes of the IRS, I am simply another “Basic Standard Deduction.”
But I remain hopeful.
With hard work and the right lobbyist, we singletons can demand a new tax code that rewards our life choices rather than ignoring, mocking, or reminding us of them on an annual basis.
We can transform April 17 into a day of celebration rather than intoxication.
We can create an IRS that likes us… just as we are.