I Take on the Tax Bill ... and "The List"

I put things off – sometimes important things – like tax bills.

I
think it all boils down to my commitment phobia. And procrastination.
Sometimes I let all the little dreadful things (like paying the tax
bill, dealing with the creditors, making doctor's appointments, filling
out financial aid forms...sense a trend?) build up and create a stack I
can't tackle.

Life builds up because we let it. I blame it on my
established behavior - like an old dog; I have a hard time retraining
myself after a lifetime of bad habits. Forgivably it's difficult to be
the teacher and the student at the same time.

A problem solver
by nature, it’s surprising even to me that my own problems are last on
my to-do list. I will quickly help someone out rather than deal with my
own crap. My to dos come with too much emotional baggage. Each one a
promised fight, a challenge, a hurdle on the road to the cross out.

This mountain list become seemingly insurmountable.

Logically
I tell myself that I can handle a little bit of “the list” each day.
Baby steps, but better than shoving the unopened bills in the bookshelf
by the door. I’m not awful. I pay my rent, electric, cable, phone … all
the basics. It’s just the ones that well – lets be honest – really
could wait – those precious few – those get cast aside.

Money was tight; I was unemployed for 6 months – I took certain liberties.

SPECIAL
NOTE: Taxes hold a very special place in my hate chamber. They get me
so angry I could feel the heat rising and teeth clenching. They fucking
suck. I’m sorry – I understand they’re necessary and all the other
bullshit, but they fucking suck. I’ve been paying taxes for 17 years
according to the books and I feel like I’ve earned a break. I have a
good record; I’ve paid my due.

Now that I was struggling,
couldn’t I get a 5-year extension to get me back on my feet? Or perhaps
even a “we’ll let this one slide just this once?”

[Insert
political economical capitalistic defense comment here. Democracy,
government and all that stuff. I get it, I get it – I just don’t always
like it.]

So last year I owed New York State a chunk of
dough. I cleaned out the savings account and paid them to get it off my
back. Or so I thought.

A few months into my unemployment, I get
a notice telling me I owe NY State the very amount I thought I paid.
Apparently, the got lost in the mail.

[Insert “how did you not notice aforementioned ‘chunk of dough’ still in your checking account?” comment here.]

I
was pretty broke at the time and was going unemployment check to check
(supporting my 6-year-old) at the time and well … I went through the
money that never got deducted so fast I didn’t realize the check never
cleared.

[Insert “you should be ashamed of yourself … balance your checkbook” comments here.]

Soon
the bills started making regular appearances. I greeted them all the
same way – by shoving them into the bookshelf by the front door. Where
there was one, there were many. Business-size, white envelopes with the
now very recognizable IRS logo. This one-way correspondence went many
rounds before I took notice.

Then something crazy happened – the
IRS sent ME money. How about that? Apparently a screw up on their end
from an audit the year before. (Yeah, THAT too.)
I’ll never understand why the IRS didn’t just take this newfound credit
and apply it to the balance they were demanding from me.

Instead they mailed me a check for almost the same amount I owed. That’s the IRS for you - America’s Accountants.

So
I now I had this bonus chunk of dough but I didn’t use it to pay the
other tax bill. I thought it was sent to me right when I needed it so
that I could live. So that’s what I did.

Another bill. Then a collections statement. One afternoon I signed for the special kind of notice that comes via certified mail.

The
last correspondence I received was very threatening. Of course I didn’t
realize its gravity until today. Today – when I had my epiphany to
start crossing stuff off “the list.”

With a little help.

My
sister agreed to help me in my journey towards a massive cross out
mission. Us versus the Mountain List. Over the years I have mastered my
ingrained nature of delegating. I handed “the list” over to my sister –
along with extensive detailed historical perspectives – via dictation,
accurately transcribed onto a laptop. (Delegator and control freak are
not mutually exclusive.) From my list to hers. Amen sista – literally!

Incidentally
– she’s accustomed to this breed of arrangement. When we were little I
used call her up from the basement to the 2nd floor to get me a remote
control that was 3 feet away from me. She’d come running anxious to
play with her big sister and I’d use her as an arm extender.

(I reveal this only in hopes of earning her forgiveness in my public and permanent humiliation.)

I
did leave myself with a few of the extremely painful to-dos. Front and
center – tax bill. Tonight I would finish him. (After all it was time
to start this all over again in a few weeks.)

So I sort through
the nasty letters. I find a place to pay online (at one of the ugliest,
poorly-designed websites) and got into the mode; I would do the due. Note that my procrastination cost me an additional $350.

It
took me 3 times to find my assessment id. Then the taxpayer id didn’t
match up. Finally a red bold message spit out: 5 unsuccessful attempts
to register – call Monday through Friday 8am – 5pm and talk to someone.
Shit – you know I don’t do that!

I wasn’t giving up. When
Firefox fails, I go Safari. This time I got it right. It took me 3
attempts to pick a username and a few more times to pick a password to
fit their cryptic formula, but I did it.

I successfully transferred the funds. A few clicks and a sharpie off “the list.”

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