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My Life was Simple in 1976 and So Were My Taxes

Last evening I spent three hours sorting through boxes, stacks and folders of paper.  My goal is to pare down the amount of paper I have to deal with in my home, which has become overwhelming.  I watched the movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford while I sorted through the paper.  As each commercial started so did my shredder.  The end product was less stacks, boxes, folders of paper and three bags full of shredded paper.

One of the boxes I went through last evening were my tax records since 1976.  I kept the past ten years of income tax records and then began shredding each year prior to the last ten.  One observation I made was the further I went back the less paper I had for each year’s tax records and the tax manuals themselves were less pages. 

It is soon tax time again and which was my inspiration for last evenings project.  I want to be organized for the accountant at an earlier date than last year.  When I got my first job that required filing taxes it was my responsibility to do my taxes.  My dad told me where to get the forms and how to work my way through them to file my taxes. 

I continued to do my taxes until the year that we became part owners in the family business.  At that point in time taxes just became too difficult to do.  I had to call the accountant too many times to make sure I was doing our taxes right.  I caved in after 22 years of doing my own taxes.

In 1976 my tax filing consisted of a one page federal form, one page state form and one W-2.  This past year our taxes included 2 W-2’s, supporting documents for itemized deductions, 1099’s.  The stack of forms and supporting documents measured 3/4 inches in height for last year’s taxes. 

Each year as I look through the tax forms and manuals for our personal and business I have to laugh at the estimated time that the IRS estimates for doing the forms.  One assumption they make is that you will actually understand the forms to complete them in the estimated time.  We moved a long way away from a person’s ability to do his or her own taxes due to the complicated tax code. 

It’s a shame because it was always an area of my life that where I felt pride and a sense of accomplishment as I mailed the tax filing forms each year.

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