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Taxes: A Little Late

by Dear Jon
April 19, 2002

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Sort 133_Dear Jon-Taxes: A Little Late ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,
It is April 12th and I still have not done my taxes. I know that I am going to get a refund, but yet I put off filing until the last minute. What can I do to motivate myself to start working on my taxes earlier next year?

Mr. Mal-motivated

Dear Moti,

You wrote on April 12th about taxes, for a column with the earliest possible publication date of April 16th. Since April 16th was already too late, since noboday cared anymore as of midnight, and since I already had a column filed that dealt with the issue of BRAD PITT ON CAMERA IN SWIMMING BRIEFS EATING M&M's, I figured we should just post-pone your letter until today, for all that the readers would care.

The way to motivate yourself is to think about the goals you have for your refund. Do you want to wait until the last minute, call in sick at work on April 15 and dig out all your receipts, only to realize at 9 PM that you are missing a schedule you need to file with your return? Then, when you get your refund, do you want to spend it on dinner, a movie, and a new pair of pants? OR, would you rather be organized, and get your return done early by spending your refund IN ADVANCE by hiring H&R Block?(r-t-m)

My wife and I have decided that a tax preparer is worth not having to burn up sick leave in early April.

Of course, if you are a true procrastinator, the best your tax preparer will be able to do for you is file an extension on your behalf, which will give you an additional several weeks to get your stuff together for the tax preparer. The fact is, compliance takes time and energy, whether you use a tax preparer or not. There are some strategies, then, to keep you on top of the game.

To get things done, I often find it is helpful to make a to-do list. Here are some suggestions on what you can include for your list.

First, to get control over your tax preparation, you have to UNDERSTAND the tax law.
To get the big picture, I recommend reading James Leroy Wilson every Wednesday on the PO. I know I have mentioned him a lot in my columns recently, but he just keeps coming up, kind of like that LOOONG person who kept writing to Dear Jon is several early sorts.

Anyway, if you read James Leroy Wilson for the next eleven months, you will be persuaded of the following: A. That the Federal Income Tax is unconstitutional. B. That the Federal Income Tax is immoral. C. That the Federal Income Tax is unjust. D. That the Federal Income Tax is violent robbery. E. The the Federal Income Tax destroys personal initiative. F. That the Federal Income Tax is a pox, nay, a cancer, on democracy and liberty. G. That the Federal Income Tax is a weapon of an oppressive, power-grabbing regime.

To be fair to yourself, however, you have to realize that James Leroy Wilson is a “secondary source” in your research on tax law. What you really want to do is do “primary reading.” So, the second item on your to-do list is to read the tax code which, currently, is not even 50,000 pages long yet. This can be read through at the rate of just 200 pages a day, five days a week, for 50 weeks. You are a week late in terms of this article’s publication, so if you start today, you will finish the code a whole week ahead of the tax deadline. Having read the whole thing, tax preparation should be a breeze.

So, your “To Do” list for taxes:
1. Read James Leroy Wilson every week to remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing.
2. Read all 50,000 pages of the tax code, 200 pages a day.
3. Complete forms and mail.

Editor's Note: Be sure to read Dear Jon's new special article, Lucidity and Life, published today.

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