Tax day: A Diary of My Pain
Photo by Paul MarsdenSunday, April 15
10:06 a.m.: Begin electronically filing federal taxes from my home computer. Twitch nervously at the amount being paid.
10:07 a.m.: Reconsider opposition to Dubya's tax cut.
10:08 a.m.: Realize I don't really need the $36 that filing electronically will save me. Make mental note to get rich soon, in order to afford accountant for real tax cut.
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11:38 a.m.: Struggle to finish taxes. Twitch nervously. Smoke.
12:46 p.m.: Finally manage to get the H&R Block site to stop flashing errors at me. Shut down computer and consider IRS.gov promotional materials my wife picked up at the Internet World Convention.
12:47 p.m.: Take mental inventory of promotional materials—IRS magnetic paper-clip holder with colored, vinyl-covered clips (estimated retail value $2.99); IRS mousepad ($5); IRS letter opener ($1); IRS paperweight ($1.50); leather IRS business-card holder ($5.99). Your tax dollars at work!
12:48 p.m.: Twitch nervously. Smoke.
2:15 p.m.: Drive to Blue Cafe for poetry and blues music. Drink vigorously. Continue twitching.
Monday, April 16
4:36 p.m.: Arrive at Costa Mesa post office to mail state taxes. Realize instantly that this trip would be unnecessary if we could file state taxes electronically.
4:37 p.m.: Psychically pelt Governor Gray Davis with hummus.
4:40 p.m.: Wait in line to purchase stamps.
4:52 p.m.: Get to stamp machine. Insert crisp $5 bill. Machine spits out bill.
4:53 p.m.: Repeat above process. Begin incurring wrath of Costa Mesans behind me.
4:54 p.m.: Continue repeating above process. Finally buy four stamps off guy next to me. Mail state taxes.
4:55 p.m.: Engage in joyous Snoopy dance. Leave post office. Smoke.
7:18 p.m.: Arrive at Santa Ana post office for Libertarian Party Tax Protest. Observe large banner warning, "Don't Feed the Feds!" Others hold signs proclaiming, "Flush it! You might as well flush your money down the drain!" and, "Hell No! We won't relent to your artificial socioeconomic subsidization of political contributors and special interests!"
7:19 p.m.: Arrive in empty parking lot, narrowly avoiding the steady stream of cars crowding down Susan Street to the "dump your taxes here" buckets provided by the post office. Your tax dollars at work!
7:21 p.m.: Chat with Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Gary Copeland. Am informed by Copeland that I'm obstructing the signs and asked to move.
7:22 p.m.: Man in a red sports car shouts, "Singing to the choir, aren't we?" Realize that on April 15, everyone's a Libertarian.
7:32 p.m.: A man in a BMW gives the thumbs-up signal to a woman carrying an "IRS: It's Really Stupid" sign.
7:33 p.m.: Observe that despite being right across from the Times OC building, there is no Times OC reporter in sight. Fucking tax-and-spend liberals.
7:35 p.m.: Inquire whether anyone is actively rebelling against paying their taxes this year, leading to riveting intellectual debate about changing the system from within the law and the legality of extorting cash from American citizens. Bored now! Walk to other corner to investigate giant, symbolic, Styrofoam toilet.
7:40 p.m.: A red-haired woman standing near the giant, symbolic, Styrofoam toilet explains that if we didn't have taxes, entrepreneurs would be able to build better toilets.
7:41 p.m.: Another Libertarian explains they're not your WTO-type protesters but that he once got the shit kicked out of him for demonstrating in favor of gun rights.
7:42 p.m.: Decide not to piss that guy off.
7:47 p.m.: A woman and I compare notes on our both getting screwed for $1,600 because we got married in 2000.
7:55 p.m.: Return to other corner, where Libertarian protesters are explaining the unfairness of the self-perpetuating prison-industrial complex to an elderly Asian man who is obviously sympathetic but is struggling with his English.
7:56 p.m.: Frat boys, also evidently struggling with their English, drive by and shout, "IRS sucks!!"
8:01 p.m.: A woman explains that she's shouting, "Flush it, and wash your hands with stone soap!" to draw parallels with Nazi Germany. When asked if that might be devaluing the trauma of Holocaust survivors, she refers me to the book IBM and the Holocaust.
8:03 p.m.: Decide to go inside, where tensions are rising over one man's inability to use the stamp machine. Smirk.
8:31 p.m.: Encounter protesters locked in intellectual debate with former border cop. OC Libertarian Party vice chairman Doug Scribner argues elegantly about personal freedom and the need for drug addicts to be medically treated. Ex-cop's arguments keep coming back to "But they broke the law!" Still, he asks for info on next Libertarian Party meeting.
8:37 p.m.: Encounter "Save Laguna Canyon" activists Jim and Linda Rushing and am reminded that not all Libertarian activists are loony.
8:45 p.m.: Someone persuades the driver of one of the mail-hauling trucks to "Honk if you hate taxes!" Re-evaluate previous decision.
8:51 p.m.: Return to car, stopping only to watch the obviously bored crossing guard engage in a Deadheadesque interpretive dance with his lighted batons.
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