Wednesday, May 17, 2006

don't pass go, go directly to jail

I feel dirty.

Somehow I didn’t file my taxes this year.

I used to have an accountant named Don Chang. He worked in Koreatown out of a little strip mall. Quite on a whim, I’d saunter in unannounced every April clutching the five pieces of paper that constituted my tax portfolio and sit in his waiting room being chatted up by his secretary who reminded me of my mom. He’d eventually call me in, calm in the eye of a storm, ensconced in a tornado of papers, wall to wall, floor to ceiling, all of it belonging to people who clearly had very complicated financial lives. And despite the fact that I usually walked in quite at the last minute at the busiest time of the year, he would ask me how I was doing, talk about his kids, ask me about my studies, and generally just be the nicest guy in the world as if we were sitting on a porch in Tenessee sipping lemonade just to pass the day. Quite the charmer. That’s probably why I could never bring myself to complain about the fact that he would ream me with a $70 bill after he spent about three minutes actually filling out my tax forms. The best part, outside of the luxury of pushing a wad of paper in his direction as my sole tax filing act, was that he would bundle my copies into a lovely envelope with company letterhead that made everything so very official feeling. It was also a comfort to know that in the case of any error, he would be investigated before I would. In fact, I almost had to take no responsibility whatsoever. That is $70 of pure freedom.

I should never have stopped going to Don Chang. His name “Don” by the way is synonymous with “money” in Korean. Very auspicious.

At some point, I had the brilliant idea that I would save the money and file my taxes myself. It was a deluded attempt at being a responsible adult. But, hell, everyone else was doing it. And it was starting to get embarrassing having an accountant. After all, I was in grad school, I was poor and Asian, which in some twisted way translates into having to file your own taxes.

Well, the whole point of this is that I didn’t do such a good job on my own. After efiling my taxes this year, in an over optimistic gesture, I went back online to check and see if my tax return had come in yet. In one of those heart stopping moments that only can happen in things computer-related—like when you accidentally delete a document, get the blue screen of death, or unintentionally reformat your hard drive—that I realized that while I had diligently finished the whole efile process, I had never actually… filed… my… return.

The thing is, I’m pretty sure that those Turbotax programs are designed to be idiot-proof. Which only points to one sad fact. Don’t say it, don’t say it.

So, do you think there's a warrant out for my arrest? Will I still get my return? I plead innocence. Incompetence. Insanity. Oh, how I hope that Don will take me back next year despite my errant ways. I really miss him.

Tell my mom I love her.

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