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Dicy McCullough: Taxes and stress; need I say more?

I don’t know about you, but when it’s tax season time, I have a panic attack. The reason is, no matter how hard my husband and I try to get our taxes done early, we seem to always be getting materials together at the last minute to take to our accountant.
It’s not that we don’t have good intentions, because we do. We start talking a good game all the way back in January. We get our W-2’s together and then compile all our receipts. These items are then placed neatly on the edge of my husband’s desk. We pass by and look at the papers, hoping somehow the numbers are going to magically jump up and place themselves in the right spaces on the right forms.
Another month goes by, and the papers are still sitting on the edge of my husband’s desk. About this time, I start saying things like, “When are we going to finish our taxes, dear?” To which my husband answers, “We’ll work on them this weekend, sweetheart.” Yet again, nothing happens. This pattern goes on for a few more weeks, until finally, it’s the end of March, or the first of April. Brent Parks, our accountant, is patient with us, but even he laughs because he knows what to expect. Finally, out of desperation my husband and I sit down at the kitchen table, and with great stress in our voices we get our taxes done. It takes a few more days for my husband to double check everything, and I gladly let him have that job. At that point, I rush the taxes downtown, in hopes Brent will have enough time to process them before the deadline. Even though there’s always about two weeks left before April 15, we know Brent has other clients to consider. What if they wait until the last minute, like we do? I guess all I can say on that issue is, I’m glad I’m not an accountant at tax time.
I suppose we all have something in our lives that gives us stress or anxiety. I hear the No. 1 reason for stress for most people is public speaking. Not that I really like public speaking all that much, but I’ll do your public speaking, if you’ll do my taxes. I really don’t know what experience caused me to feel this way, except I do remember my mom and dad sitting at the kitchen table stressing over their taxes. Maybe there’s a voice inside my head replaying that scene from my childhood.
How high is your level of anxiety about now? Are you thinking of a few things that make you anxious or stressed? Well, taxes are not the only thing that makes me anxious or stressed. I do not like getting a shot, and I do not like snakes. Then, there’s always the economy. I admit it. I’m prejudiced. I think it stinks the way teachers are losing jobs and taking pay cuts. Their plates are already full with their workload, and now it seems they may take cuts in pay on top of that. I started teaching in the late ’70s, and the economy today seems to be a repeat of that time. There were very few teacher positions then, just like today, and there were always whispers of pay cuts or freezes.
Stressful times are hitting everyone from every side and every angle. No one is exempt, but the bottom line is, we all could and should be a little more understanding of what others may be going through. Next year, when my husband and I are doing our taxes, I’ll try to remember my own advice and be more understanding of what he’s going through. I can hear myself very calmly saying, “Yes, dear, which form is it you need now?” On second thought, that’s not going to happen. Oh well! What can I say? No one’s perfect.
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Dicy McCullough is the author of a children’s book, “Tired of My Bath,” available at Literary Book Post, Treasures Hidden, Corner Books and More in China Grove and amazon.com.

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