Tax season has come with a new fear this year. We had to visit our accountant’s small office to sign things. We managed to get last year’s taxes filed before the pandemic became evident. This year I spent weeks worrying about the upcoming appointment. Sitting in a room with a man I both respect and fear. Our government loves its paperwork, and although you can file electronically you still have to pay any amounts owed (on the state or local level) with actual paperwork. That paperwork has to be signed. To do so you need to meet an actual person who has some inkling of how this all works. Ironically, the technology exists for taxes to be done automatically by the government. Groups like Intuit, the owners of TurboTax, lobby the government not to make it easier. Intuit would lose its income stream.
I don’t mind paying taxes. I did chafe a bit the past four years, knowing I was supporting an evil government, but overall I understand that we all need to contribute in order for things to continue to run (somewhat) smoothly. The thing that frightens me is being in a room with someone who might’ve been earlier talking with someone who had a dread disease. Last week marked the one-year breaking point. My wife and I agree that March 12 was the day the news turned utterly ominous. Although the Trump administration knew about the disease, it had decided simply to ignore it. Now, with more than half-a-million Americans dead, we’re still paying our taxes to try to undo the damage that one man did.
The more immediate problem is how to survive getting those tax papers signed. Ironically, I can oversee the acquisition, editing, production, and sale of a physical book without ever having to touch a piece of paper. It’s a marvel, really. In fact, many of the books I acquire I don’t see until months after they’re published. For taxes, however, we still need to send the physical paper in. The alternative is TurboTax. They add on so many fees that we ended up paying them as much as an actual accountant last time we did our own taxes. I’m happy to pay a human being to do them, and I even like our accountant. It’s just that it doesn’t feel safe to go inside somebody else’s space right now. It’s a little too cold and wet to stand outside and sign the papers with trembling fingers. Perhaps next year we’ll be able to do our part without fear.