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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 19, 2010

On tax day, cup of tea just won't do

By David Shapiro

My estimation of the conservative movement went up when I got a flier from young members of the Grass-root Institute for a "Liberty on the Rocks" event at a popular nightspot.

It said, "Join other liberty-minded individuals for drinks and conversation at ... a monthly meeting of young freedom lovers dedicated to solving our country's problems one drink at time."

I'll drink to anybody who can recognize the political value of a little friendly libation.

Then the same group spoiled the vibe by inviting me to its Tax Day Tea Party at the Capitol to mark the federal tax filing deadline.

Tea? If ever there's a day I need a stiff drink, it's tax day.

It's not that I mind paying my taxes; it just seems to be more hassle every year to figure out how much I owe.

My taxes are straightforward in my semi-retirement, so I do them myself using a popular tax software.

I'm fairly organized, sticking records in a manila envelope through the year, so I'm ready when it comes time to do the ciphering. I push the deadline because no taxes are withheld from my freelance income and I always end up owing.

It used to take just a couple of hours, but lately annoying complications have turned it into a daylong ordeal. This year, it was reporting $237 in income from a rental property my siblings and I inherited.

The tax software didn't want to help me fill out a simple Schedule E unless I paid $30 more for the premium version. When I tried to do it manually, all my data were flagged in red with exclamation marks and warnings that hell awaited.

After two hours of wrestling with this, I regretted not doing more to support the simplified flat tax that was floated during the Reagan administration.

But I managed to get it done in time to make it to the post office a day early. The postman congratulated me and asked if I'd like to send it by express mail to get it there sooner.

I said, "Are you kidding? Give me a postmark to prove I mailed it on time and then put it on the slowest boat you've got."

Tomorrow is the state tax deadline and I'm actually getting a small refund to finance a celebratory cocktail. Unfortunately, I'll have to curb my thirst while the state holds my money as an involuntary loan until sometime after July.