Oh, the pain: It’s time to do taxes again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2017

“Oh, the pain!” I whisper to myself as I pull the second or third envelope from my mailbox indicating it is an income tax return document. Yes, it is that time of year when the mailbox almost runs over with the documents and a fistful of donation requests.

“Sorry, y’all,” I think as I separate those envelopes containing appeals for money from the important papers I need to add to my income tax file. “Oh, the pain,” I groan, taking the phrase from the “Lost in Space” TV series of the 1960s. Dr. Smith, the scientist who almost stole the show, was a frustrating character. He caused trouble, but always blamed it on somebody else. When he suffered the consequences of his actions, he groaned “Oh, the pain. The pain!”

I have this dread of owing the IRS more than I can afford because of what my husband and I experienced the first year he taught high school ROTC. Somehow, not enough tax money was withdrawn from his salary. It left us owing more than a thousand dollars to the IRS. “Oh, the pain!” I think we both were in shock for a few days. Every time I thought about it, I got a terrible feeling in my stomach. That was many years ago but it is the first thing that pops in my mind as the documents roll in every January.

These days I am a little more organized than I was back then. As I start gathering everything, I don’t have to go through the year’s stack of checks. Instead, my bank furnishes miniaturized copies of the checks, which makes it easier for me to find what I need. It is much more convenient than sorting through a year’s accumulation of cleared checks. I am a pack rat, so I keep years and years of those records just to be sure I have them on hand if the IRS asks for any of them. (“Oh, the pain!).

Sometimes I print out a chart I designed several years ago to help compile all the information needed to file the taxes. Thank goodness, too, for the handy calculator some company sent as a gift, because arithmetic was never my favorite subject. I admit, though, that sometimes I take up pencil and paper to check some figures the old-fashioned way. I run my own totals to be sure. “Oh, the pain.”

One year, I put off getting the job done as soon as I should. That was when one of the documents turned up missing. I panicked when that important piece of paper just was not in sight. I looked everywhere I could imagine it might be. It was not there. “Oh, the pain.” I requested and received a duplicate. Months afterward, the lost one turned up under some furniture we moved.

When my accountant finishes the task this year I hope I will not be moaning “Oh, the pain,” but I will be smiling happily because I came out even.


Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.