Ah, Tax Day. That magical date when grown-ass adults metaphorically turn into freshmen who spent all semester playing hackey sack in the quad and now have to scramble to write a 10-page paper on three books they didn't read despite the fact that they've had the assignment for weeks. They say the only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes, but between the two I'm going to have to join #TeamDeath here because at least death has the decency to only make you go through it once. Taxes are an annual exercise in panic and confusion, and it's made all the worse when you introduce children into the equation.
When moms reach Tax Day... honestly, the general feeling is pretty much the same feeling anyone gets when it's time to put on the big kid pants and start adulting. But issues parents have in preparing their taxes are unique: there's usually more to it than simply announcing you've popped out a dependent or two since last year. Filing questions like "What percent of childcare expenses will get credited back on my taxes?" or "Do married couples have to file jointly to receive full credit on child-related expenses?" are common, as are logistical questions like "How the hell am I supposed to concentrate on this with a wailing infant on my lap?"
Our hellish journey often looks something like this...
Oh $#!t, That's Today?
Wait. It's usually April 15, but they changed tax day this year, so I thought I had more ti-... oh, it's already April 18? Well crap. Okay. Ummm... yeah, I definitely overestimated how long 3 days would be. All right, let's do this.
Where Are All Those Forms?
I definitely remember getting them. And I think I got them in the mail, which would mean I stuck them under my arm as I walked through the door with the kids, which means it's probably in that 4 foot high pile of mail and macaroni art where I put everything when I get home after a long day. The pile I'll "sort through later." Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh... Oooh! Wait! No! I actually think I filed them in the appropriate spot right away! Yay! Found them! Oh. Wait...
These Are Last Year's Forms
(Don't worry: eventually you do find them. And hey, in the process you finally go through your big mail-cum-macaroni-art pile... sort of. In looking for your tax forms you have subdivided the giant pile into four different "to sort through" piles. You will almost certainly consolidate them back into one in about two days.)
Choosing The Perfect Movie To Ensure That Your Child Will Leave You Alone Long Enough To Do Your Taxes
You have your forms all laid out on your table, now it's time to file your taxes. Obviously, you will need to occupy your children somehow: this is basically what TV was invented for. But you have to choose wisely: a new movie might captivate them into rapt silence, or it might not hold their interest at all. A tried and true favorite might work, or they might be so familiar with it they feel free to run between bugging you and the TV. Take a deep breath and follow your heart on this one.
How Many Dependents Do I Have Again?
Taxes are confusing and intimidating, so literally every basic bit of information is sucked out of your brain as you gaze down at the pages of 10 point font.
Can I Write Off Preschool?
I believe "child" comes from the Old German word "childfenügenschwile" which roughly translates to "tiny, adorable, and deeply loved money pits." (The Germans have always known how to coin a great turn of phrase.) Tax time is the one time of year where we're like "Okay, we can can perhaps work this to our benefit." But what can we claim? What is off limits? There's so much to know!
(By the way: You can claim preschool costs on taxes, but only in certain circumstances.)
What Is My Daycare Provider's EIN? Also What's An EIN?
It's an Employer Identification Number and you will need to include it if you want to claim childcare.
I Literally Can't Right Now
BECAUSE THIS IS TOO HARD AND THE KIDS LOST INTEREST IN The Lion King AND THEY'RE WHINING THAT THEY'RE HUNGRY AND DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND THAT I AM TRYING TO DO LAST MINUTE TAXES HERE?!
Woo Hoo! Money!
Okay. Papers are in order. You got that EIN. The kids (you can remember how many you have now) are fed, watered, and have settled back on the couch to watch Simba reclaim his kingdom. You're in the zone... and what do you know?! You're getting money back!
You immediately make plans for that money. You're Amazon cart has been accumulating items for months — maybe it's time to hit "confirm." *gasp* Or a Sephora splurge? Ooh! Or a weekend getaway with your partner?!
Nevermind, I Have Kids, I'll Never Get To Keep Money Ever Again
What's yours is theirs and what's theirs is theirs and you get precisely nothing because you live in a child oligarchy now.
(You can also skip to this emotional state if you owe taxes, which suuuuuuucks.)
The Overwhelming Sense Of Relief You Feel When You File Just In The Nick Of Time
You suddenly know how Frodo must have felt dropping that ring into the fires of Mount Doom. It's over.
Immediate Dread That You've Done Something Incorrectly And Will Get Audited
Did you cross all your T's and dot all your I's? Were you actually allowed to claim the things you claimed? Did you enter the right numbers? Are you an inadvertent criminal destined for Federal prison? Time will tell. In the mean time, relax, girlfriend: you filed your taxes, and no one can take that away from you. Pour yourself yourself a glass of your fanciest Cabernet and kick back. You've earned it.