Posted by: cassymuronaka | January 17, 2009

Show me the money

I see that the state controller has announced that those of us lucky enough to receive tax refunds this year will, instead, almost certainly be mailed IOUs.

This is happening because the circus known as the California legislature and the whip-cracking Austrian ringmaster himself have been heaving water balloons non-stop at each other since early last year, all of which has resulted in a nearly $42 billion dollar deficit and one of the longest running budget wars in state history.

It seems incredible that people like me, who have to take to their bed for three days after completing the yearly tax process, apparently have turned out to be more competent wading through murky financial waters than the lawyers who probably dominate the number of seats in the legislature, and the governor, a self-made gazillionaire and once one of the world’s most bankable movie stars.

I don’t know if my own modest budgeting and tax combat methods would be of value to our state representatives.  But because I really count on that refund every  year – it lifts me out of  a psychological post-Christmas financial morass  – I am willing to share.


Step 1: Every time you buy something or pay a bill, throw the receipt in a giant, glossy convention-goer booty bag.  Push bag to a corner in your dining room where it is vaguely accessible.

Step 2: On the first business day of the New Year, decide how long you can realistically put off seeing your tax accountant, and then call him and schedule accordingly.  Whine a little about having to do this to anyone who will listen to you.

Step 3: One or two weeks before the appointment with your accountant, fit all the leaves into your dining room table, extending it to its fullest length.  After that, go find yourself a black Sharpie and a large box of Ziploc gallon bags.   Start pulling receipts out of the MacWorld bag and sort into appropriately labeled Ziplocs. Do this until you get really really sleepy.

Step 4: Continue Step 3 until all the receipts are bagged or until you cannot contain yourself any longer and are compelled to begin shouting about how many times the family ate out at restaurants this year for no good reason.

Step 5: Before taking Step 5, make sure that all three of the next Netflix rentals belong solely to you and are timed to arrive mid-week.  Now drag your laptop into the dining room and insert a DVD as you begin totaling how much you spent last year and how much money you are probably going to need this year.   Note: do not rent foreign language or action films because you’ll never read the subtitles or know what is happening in the plot.  Talky British movies with witty people like Hugh Laurie or Emma Thompson are best.

Step 6: Go to bed early the night before the accountant appointment and thoroughly enjoy the fact that your husband, who has heretofore not laid a pinky on one receipt, will stay up all night checking everything because he is a terrible procrastinator and because he always complains about how you do the taxes despite the fact that you always get a refund.

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