Throwback Thursday: Married Filing Jointly

Taxes.jpg

It's April, which means if you listen closely, you can hear the murmur of couples across America feverishly preparing their taxes.  Understand, "preparing" means different things in different households. For some it involves bickering about receipts, while in other homes someone is yelling about waiting until the last minute. From some homes you can't hear anything because there's just the silent resentment one spouse feels for having to do all the work alone.

I first learned married couples fight about taxes from my parents.  My father was self-employed, which means ideally he should have had an effective system for saving and organizing receipts throughout the year. My Dad's system was having some receipts at the office, some at home---I think there might have even been a shoe box involved.  I also remember that my father started working on the taxes pretty close to the 15th, something my mother hated. Every year she was convinced they weren't going to make it on time, and every year there was a late night trip to the post office downtown.

In my household things go much smoother. I get all our documents ready and take them to our accountant. Then after I pick up the taxes, my husband signs where I tell him. I must admit, it used to bother me that he shows no interest in our taxes.  Now I'm over it. I think about my mother's frustration and I'm just glad to have control over the process. Although maybe just for fun, I'll slip some extra papers in with the taxes this year and see what else I can get my husband to sign. Post-nuptial agreement? Vasectomy contract? Abdication of remote control privileges? So much to consider.

Meanwhile, to all you couples whose refund is already deposited in your bank account because you got your taxes done back in February, I take my hat off to you---and then I put the hat in front of my face and roll my eyes.

UPDATE

I originally wrote this post almost 10 years ago, but it’s still pretty accurate. The memories of stress in my childhood home in the days leading up to April 15th are still very clear, as is the memory of that trip to the downtown post office.

In my own home, things have changed. A little. Over time, I started directly asking my husband to be involved in small parts of the process. Now he makes a mean spreadsheet of our charitable contributions, and hears a lot more stories about my conversations with the accountant. I could still slip in some extra papers for him to sign, so I’ll have to figure out what I want now that I’m less concerned about controlling the remote.

Paula Holt