Column: Filling out forms for the IRS is taxing


For the Valley News

Published: 04-03-2023 9:46 AM

The forms are everywhere on my desk; one page even threatened to fall on Larry, the little Chiweenie dog sleeping on his king-sized tuffet next to me. A green Yeti coffee cup held down one pile of disheveled papers; I’d had the overhead fan on to dry the perspiration on the back of my neck and it created a chaotic swirl of all the 1099 forms that I had yet to scan to my computer.

My nerves jangled in the pit of my stomach as I guided the mouse to the little yellow file labeled 2022 Taxes.

I imagined that if I didn’t fill that file soon with scanned tax documents and send it off to my accountant, a Government Revenuer would knock at my front door. No doubt this middle-aged guy, his fedora cocked sideways and wearing a tan trench coat, would be agitated. He would have traveled in his little government-issued Corolla all the way from Washington, D.C., to nab another errant taxpayer. Think Mr. Bookman, the agent sent to get Jerry Seinfeld for not returning a library book a decade before.

Honestly, I am not one of those people who hates paying taxes, as long as they are reasonable. By reasonable, I mean they are going for things that we all need, like schools, libraries, fire and police, the military, and smooth roads. But I really do hate collecting a raft of crumpled and dog-eared documents to show what I earned and what I paid.

Can’t the government just take my word I paid some taxes, and I’ll take their word my taxes went to things beneficial to all of us?

Every year, I collect the documents the government says I must show them, but I don’t dare do the calculations. I will hand them off to our accountant, who heroically fills out the multiple forms, hoping to fend off the revenuers from my front door.

Here is what I found on my desk:

Form 1099: I know they want our social security earnings, and I notice my wife’s 1099 right away (Why did the IRS pick number 1099 and not round it up to form number 1100? Cripes). But mine is missing. It must be in another pile somewhere. I’ll put that on my to-do list.

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Form 1099-R: I have a paltry monthly pension from an old employer that is almost not worth mentioning, but I file it anyway. That’s the sort of thing I would lose sleep over at 2 a.m., waking up and thinking “I wonder if I should have listed that old pension plan payment? What if the government finds out and the revenuers make me do a perp walk out of my house in front of the neighbors?”

I wonder what the hell R means.

Form 1099-INTs: We use two banks, and I have their 1099-INTs. There isn’t much money in those accounts, and they accrue some ridiculously small amount of interest. The INT must stand for ‘I’ll Never Tell,’ but I know the bank would quickly snitch if the feds call them.

“Why two banks?” you may ask.

“I don’t know,” I would answer back.

Form 1099-MISC: I published a small book two years ago, and the publisher royalties from that are laughable. The tax form is a 1099–MISC. They couldn’t give it a plain 1099 number; no, they wanted the publisher to add Miscellaneous to rub my nose in it. Geez.

Forms 1099-B’s, 1099-DIV’s, 1099-INTs, and 1099-OID’s: My wife and I have some savings in stocks and bonds. She has her own account, and I have one. I am trying to remember why we have two portfolios; maybe she wanted to make sure she had reserves in case I ran off with a sweet young thing and flew to Puerto Rico. Or maybe she wanted to make sure she had enough cash to fly to Cancun with an eight-packed cabana boy named Cristoff. I can’t recall now.

My freaking head is spinning now, along with an intensifying stomach churn. Even Larry looks rattled.

Knowing that charitable giving can reduce a tax burden, I vainly search for evidence we did so. Any tithing to a church? Apparently, our Sundays are for grilling pork chops and french fries. I found a gift we made to a local organization, but I’m afraid to declare it because, well, it’s pretty small and makes us look chintzy.

My to-do list reminds me I’m still looking for my social security 1099. I looked under the file labeled Social Security, then Medicare, and also Taxes. Nothing. Hang on a minute. Here it is, coffee-stained and filed under Miscellaneous. I should have known.

I expect our excellent accountant knows these forms inside and out. To her, it must be like reading tarot cards of our financial future, but here’s hoping she has helped me escape a dreaded IRS audit.

Mike Skinner is a writer who lives in Lebanon. Skinner was a medic in the U.S. Army, a hospital executive and a college educator. He is the author of “My Life as a Non-Valedictorian,” available through Amazon and Kindle.