Our new constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. — Benjamin Franklin, probably quoting some other dead rich dudes.
Ah yes, it is that time of year again. Normally I would have filed my taxes by now, as I prefer to get it out of the way as early as possible and put it out of my mind. I don't ordinarily think of the refund. I prefer to get as close to breaking even as possible, though given a choice to take a refund or pay out, obviously I'd choose the former. It's just nice to get it done so I don't have to deal with the anxiety.
Every year, it feels like an elaborate trap to verify information that, for all intents and purposes, has already been acquired. I can literally log into the wonderful modern Social Security Administration website and verify that they have my Adjusted Gross Income on file. So why must this process be so painful?
Last year I filed too early and had to chase down documentation from previous employers and clients and make amendments, which are arguably worse than filing the first time. So now, here we are, minutes to midnight on the eve of the deadline. In my sense of idealism, I know that this can't be the only way. Fortunately, Twitter provides.
I can learn a lot about the world idly scrolling down the timeline in transit, but it's pretty remarkable that I remember any of it at all. I was on Twitter the other day reading about how Sweden permits its citizens to complete taxes with a simple text message, in what The Atlantic calls "The 10-Second Tax Return."
Imagine: No paperwork, no exorbitant fees for complex software or maths magicians to hire in search of loopholes. Just a simple question; is this correct? Then you can move on with your life. Instead, apparently our government has a vested interest in our archaic system, likely bought and paid for by the very same software I use every year to get the job done.
It's absolutely absurd. But that's America for you.