Taxes suck. Everything about them suck. The tax code is written in such a way that even a book called “Taxes for Dummies” reads like Stephen Hawkins “A Brief History of Time.” Oddly, I’ve read that book and I understand it way more than doing my taxes although I’m am 99% sure that there are black holes in both. One sucks up light and the other sucks up my will to live.
However, they have to be done and one cannot just walk away. The government doesn’t take that to good. The whole “I’ll getcha next time” speech works well in a bar with buddies but not so well with the IRS. They tend to track you down like a made man of Italian descent who has a grudge because you’ve been talking to the wrong people.
With that in mind, my wife and I sat down and did our taxes. We tend to do them every year way before they are due because we like to get our money back. It’s good to get our money back, otherwise it goes into golden coffers to pay for bridges that lead no where or for postage stamps for Congressmen. Seriously dudes, buy your own postage stamps. You pull down 6 figures, you don’t need us paying for stamps. I know, I just got a little political there. Sorry about that, but c’mon, postage stamps.
As a single income family, I would think that doing our taxes would be a simple affair. I origanally thought this 4 years ago when we first did them because I was an idiot. I was optimistic that surely these things would be simple because I feel that our lives are simple. We give a bit to charity, we own a home, a couple of cars and have a couple of kids. Simple life, simple taxes. Then you do your own taxes for the first time trying to save that 300 bucks you used to spend to have a CPA do it and you find that nothing requiring that much paperwork is simple. We put a man on the moon that required less paperwork.
I don’t know when the last time I had to pull out a dictionary before I started doing my own taxes. And what really concerned me is that some of the words I was looking for aren’t in the dictionary. It should concern us all that even the dictionary cannot define things in the tax code. That’s messed up man.
But the worst thing though is the feeling I get when I do my taxes. It’s a bit like gambling, just a touch. There is usually some high anxiety knowing that I’m playing a game where I barely understand the rules and the only thing that I am sure of is that the house has the advantage. However the real difference here is that if I miss input one number I don’t just crap out, I go to jail to get educated on the subtles of shower love. And if it’s an honest mistake, say I put a 2 instead of a 1, multiply that by 2000 and that’s probably what I’ll owe in penitlties. Forget Fear Factor, give the contestents a couple of W-2’s with a smudged #1 box and see who cracks. I’ll eat live cock roaches, just don’t make me do my taxes.
As we went through our taxes, constantly shuffeling papers and calling a priest to quickly bring holy water, we got to the part about deductions. I love deductions, deductions are my friend, he’s a great guy. Deductions are the kind of guy that buys you a shot at the bar instead of the beer because this shit just got serious. Deductions take it up a notch, he is the Gandalf of the tax world. Sadly, as we go through the deductions, I realize that perhaps I don’t know deductions as well as I should. We use a tax program that keeps track of our current refund/owe stats. It’s a number that sits on the top right of the screen.
With every deduction that we add, that number changes a little bit. With every liability we add, it also changes a little bit the wrong way. I find myself pacing as I read forms off to my wife to input into the program. I quickly glance at that number like a man desperate for his horse to win, place or show. All I need is an old school fedora to wring in my hands while I swear to my wife that this last deduction is a “mudder” and runs best after a rain. And it is a mudder, a mudder that goes by the name “Child Tax Credit.”
This is where we make up some ground. Children and dependents are great on taxes. That take that tax liablity way, way down. Even now, writing this, brings a smile to my face. This is my Christmas present from the children and they have no idea. We click in the deduction, our number goes in the right direction, my anxiety goes down a little bit. We carry on through the deductions until we get to the part that starts talking about deductions for childcare.
And this is what gets my goat as an at home dad. There are no deductions for at home parents. It’s not shocking but what is shocking is what you can deduct in the childcare areana. You can deduct for daycare, a fair deduction even though I don’t get one. However, you can also deduct for a Nanny.
Yes, if you make enough money to afford a nanny, you can deduct that from your taxes. Now I’m just going to throw some logic out at you, please feel free to comment below should I be off my rocker. The census bureau considers a father that stays home with his kids as “alternate child care.” So in essence, according to the people that take stats for the county on this kind of thing, I am indeed a nanny. And as such, my wife should be able to deduct what she spends on paying me: room, board and the occasional hand that rocks the cradle vibe that I get from her from time to time.
Look, it’s fine to insult me once by declaring me “alternate childcare” but atleast let me take the deduction. If I’m not a “parent” in the census bureau’s eyes, shouldn’t my wife at least get all the benifits of a nanny, or in my case–hot pool boy who provides childcare? It sounds only fair to me and as we all know, taxes are all about fairness.