27 Insane Tax Seasons – Greenlee’s Inferno (Not a comedy)

2012 may not be the end of the world as predicted by the Mayan calendar, but it is the end of my professional career as a tax professional. Oh I will always prepare a few for family and friends, but for the general public, the 2011 returns represents my last. Why? One sure fire way to go insane is to try to keep up with insane politicians insanely mingling in the insane tax code and the insane public’s expectations. Over the last decade the law has been more insane than usual. Let me help you understand the insanity.

Tax season begins January 1 by filing employment forms (W-2’s, 1099’s, etc.) no later than January 31. This is of course wholly dependent on companies having their act (books) together. So January is the first insane month of hell.

In February people start receiving aforementioned forms and those that have a refund coming are already want to file, so they have vacation money for spring break. Folks, the US Treasury is not a savings account! I actually had a taxpayer state that they had no will power to save, so they let the IRS do it for them. There is the philosophy of the early filers. That is February, the second insane month from hell.

In March, you have corporate tax deadlines. This is when companies finally get their act together, on March 10, for the deadline on March 15. If you try to extend the return, here is an actual response from an actual client, “Well we got it to you on time, why do you have to extend?” I have always wanted to reply “Sir, there is no magic button I can push to clean up twelve months of DIY bookkeeping garbage.” The DIY craze began many years ago and has been the number one reason for me for calling it quits. If a brain surgeon did brain surgery as bad as they did books, I’d just shoot myself and save healthcare dollars.

In April, you have the procrastinators’ convention from hell. These people from the insane public call you on April 10, with their plans to go on a worldwide cruise and want their return by April 15th. Now if you can finish the returns on April 15th, you don’t get a thank you, you get questions as to why my fee is so high, because that interferes with their spending money on their trip.

So, insanity is trying to make the majority of your annual income in three and one-half months. In the past it was the monthly accounting of small businesses that fed us. Tax return revenues were the icing on the cake. But since the DIY craze we are left with a massive amount of tax work with which to attempt to earn a full year’s worth of income, it bears repeating, in three and a half months. To say “I am burned out” does not do it justice. Instead I’ll call it a journey through Greenlee’s Inferno.

There I stood, the accountant, at the tenth level of hell. My mind battered by the horrors of the nine previous levels, yet I had the last level to endure. It was April tenth and the fury and wrath of all those self-inflicted by sloth, stood there with their arms tugging at my flesh. They demanded I take undocumented deductions and not heed notice of unreported income for they justified their sins hurt no one. They swam in their own excrement of poor record keeping, but bade me heed no notice of it, no matter how putrid their unworldly stench. They flung their excrement into Pandora’s box and presented it to me, pleading to save their behinds from the fires of the coming days. If I failed their standard, they assaulted me with their muted curses.

For twenty-seven years, I have heard their pleas, their cries of anguish until my mind was wracked by pain and with bitter and sleepless nights. There I stood drained of flesh and spirit, as I neared the exit from hell. As I bade farewell, their cries were at the injustice of me leaving them to the insane world they could not escape. There my last image was of them standing in their excrement clinging to their money that had replaced all their morals and ethics, the very possession which imprisoned them there.

At the first level of hell appeared a new accountant, fresh to the world, ready to be devoured. I had been easily replaced and my name was as fleeting as the wind and forgotten forever. I appeared at the exit and before me shone a light and a voice spoke to me, “You have passed the test, to have withstood all the levels of hell and those that are bound to it. You have not sacrificed your beliefs or your oath. Now, seek the clear, clean air and breathe the life of sanity.”

There comes a time in life when you must choose how to spend the remaining days. I look forward to those years where I no longer curse the days of a man-made season of insane complexity.

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