When my brother was getting married twenty-seven years ago, I was teaching first grade. I thought it would be a good idea…and it was…to give him and his soon-to-be-wife the gift of wisdom…6 year-old wisdom, that is. I asked my kids to write to these prompts…”What makes a good husband?” and “What makes a good wife?” I took their writings, put them into construction-paper-covered “books,” and gave them to the bride and groom.
One child wrote that a good husband would not forget to pay the “taxis.” We figured out from the text that some dad had not paid taxes, and it had made an impression on his kid. I know how that kid felt. When I was very young, and learning about taxes, I asked my mother how they worked. She explained that a citizen had to file every year. I asked what happened if a citizen didn’t file, and Mom said, “They go to jail.” I then said, “Have you filed?” Mom said, “No.” I lived for years expecting Mom to answer the door to the IRS agents, who had come to take her away for not filing.
Let me tell you, I have Tax Anxiety, and the mom conversation is not the only reason. My former spouse failed to claim the sale and loss of an entire apartment complex, which put both of us in a terrible tax-owing hundreds-of thousands-of-dollars situation, Really. It took us very many years to come out of that one, and I was NOT unscathed.
I, personally, don’t take tax time lightly. My first year of doing taxes on my own, I had everything I thought I was supposed to have ready by February first. As time has gone by, I have reverted to my basic pattern of procrastination. I angst from January 31, when all W-2s are expected to arrive, until I finally get all papers, medical-interest-charity-tax-paid, and any-other-deductible proof figured and ready to give to my preparer. She is wonderful, and I actually pray for and thank God for her every single year around the end of January through April 15.
All this to say, the six year-old kid was right, and I am again astounded at the wisdom of children. That kid knew what I’ve known since I was young, too…don’t forget to pay the taxis. Oh, and the taxes, too.