There is a big manila envelope sitting here on my desk. It is filled with documents. I know what is inside it: Inside are my tax returns for 2012, prepared, for the first time ever in my life, by a professional tax preparer who is not my CPA father or a relative by marriage (to whom I am no longer related).
I have not opened the envelope in two months.
I know what’s inside. Inside are the 1040s and Schedule Cs and 1099s and all the various forms and attachments and copies of forms and vouchers – dreaded vouchers for paying my quarterly estimated taxes, state and federal, for 2013.
But I’m not opening it.
When I was a kid, I had no problem with such documents. I helped my dad in his basement office in our house, making copies for him of his clients’ 1040 forms in an ancient copy machine – the Bruning – that had rollers and to which you had to add all kinds of chemicals which, looking back on it, must certainly have been toxic. You also were supposed to close your eyes and not look at the light when the copies were being made.
I’m sure I looked.
But now I’m not looking. To open that envelope, to look at those documents – my documents, my “returns” – makes me sick to my stomach. I get a really queasy feeling when I have to deal with such things. I tried using Quicken software on my computer, which is set up sort of like a video game, to keep track of my finances, but I utterly failed at that, too. I hate the “ka-ching” sound it makes every time you make an entry into a workbook. I don’t even know what a workbook is. And I don’t want to know.
I am my father’s son. But my father was a CPA. Actually, that reminds me, I need to call my father. He’s retired and lives in a nursing home and last week he was hospitalized for intestinal bloating due to some sort of twisting of his guts. Which is how I feel when I look at my tax returns. Which is why I’m not opening that envelope. Which is why I will probably go to prison for not paying my estimated taxes.