Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Monday, April 11, 2005

Pesach and Taxes

Ben Franklin said that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. Less morbidly, at this time of year, the only things certain are Pesach and taxes. Both of them are time-consuming and angst-producing. One celebrates the freedom and redemption of the Jewish people. Completion of the other assures our freedom from minimum security prisons, however much we might like the thought of spending five months with Martha Stewart in West Virginia.

Contrary to my procrastinating nature, I have already completed my income tax returns this year. Even though I have always been reasonably good at math, I used to be terrified of doing my own taxes, and messing them up. In previous years, I used to go to H&R Block to have them do my returns until I realized how ludicrous it was to pay them what they were charging. So, this year, I purchased TurboTax, and I must say it was money well spent. The program walked me through the 1040, and other forms I had to fill out because of free-lance income, and my whole federal return was done in about an hour or so. The local and state forms didn't take terribly long either. I started stressing out about my taxes back in January, started getting all the paperwork together sometime in late February, and finally mailed the forms and payment due in early April -- stretching the process out for almost as long as possible, but still ahead of the deadline. I am so relieved they are done, and proud of myself for doing the work myself this time.

Over the years of being single, I have come to appreciate the fact that I am learning many life skills that women in previous generations (and some in this one) never learned because those were things their husbands did for them. While there are plenty of times that I wish I had a husband to take care of unpleasant things like taking out the garbage, washing the car, and paying the taxes, deep down I am proud that I am doing these things for myself. Along these lines, a few months ago, I needed to replace a light bulb on a ceiling fixture. I got out my stepladder, but it wasn't tall enough for me to reach. I debated going to ask a tall, male neighbor for help, but decided against it. Instead, I went out and bought a taller stepladder and replaced the bulb myself. I felt very empowered.

Occasionally, when I am attacking some challenge that I was hoping to permanently avoid, I think to myself that perhaps this was the final hurdle I needed to cross to be fully prepared to be a married woman. So G-d, if you're listening, I did my takes myself this year (with the help of some very smart software), so I'm all ready for Mr. Right, if you want to send him my way. If not, I'll be fine in the interim -- I've got cockroach killer, an electric drill, a computer with updated software and virus protection, and a tuned up, oil changed, bright shiny car; everything thing I need to get by on my own.

Now that the taxes are done, I'm heavily into Pesach preparations, which I have learned over the years to space out over a few weeks, so I'm not overwhelmed with shopping and cleaning. (And I am fully aware that much of the cleaning I do is not necessary according to halacha, but it makes me feel good to have a clean apartment for Pesach.) If there is anything I have learned in my adult life, it is that any overwhelming project can be divided into infinitely small tasks, which are so much more manageable.

Pesach, taxes -- these are things I can handle myself, but I wouldn't object to having a man to share them with.


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