Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Thank god it’s the last week of tax season. I’m ready for it to be over. In fact, the weather and tax season can both take their leave of me now. I don’t need this frigid, arctic weather, and I would like my weekends back. As if it were somehow divined, I’ve suddenly come into a flood of personal tax clients. Of course, no one wants to do it early. It’s something I’ve never understood. Those who are getting their money back file early, and those who are paying not only file late, they prepare late, too. Now, I understand the wait-until-the-last-minute-to-pay thing. But it never fails that over half those people know they’re going to owe a substantial amount of money, but wait anyway, then fret about how much they owe, and “where am I going to get all this money?” It never dawns on them (even when I’ve told them time and time again) that if they prepared their return in January, the “where am I going to get the money?” question would have been much easier to answer. Sure, it wouldn’t reduce what they owe (that would have taken their thinking ahead before they take the money out of their 401(k)), but at least they wouldn’t find themselves in a cash crunch. Or better yet, like the guy, four years or so ago, who sat telling me all about the vacation he was planning for himself and his wife while I plugged away at his return. When I got done, he owed something like fifteen hundred dollars, because he’d taken a huge chunk of his 401(k) “to pay bills and other stuff” and, of course, was under 59 ½, and so incurred the 10% penalty. Of course I asked how he was going to pay for this wonderful vacation, and he responded, “with my refund. It’s my savings account.” Now, why you’d want a non-interest-bearing savings account is beyond me (although that’s pretty much what any passbook-style savings account is anymore), but plenty of people over-withhold and treat their tax refund as a windfall, instead of being a bit more prudent with their money all year long. Anyway, this guy was one of those people, and he was quite upset when I responded with “not this year. You owe.” And this guy was a big, biker-looking dude. And he was pissed. But there was nothing I could do – it was all his own doing. Needless to say, he didn’t come back the next year.