Tax Relief

March 24, 2009

For a few blessed hours this week, I nearly forgot about my cancer. After seven weeks of thinking/breathing/eating breast cancer, I got a reprieve and, oddly enough, I have Uncle Sam to thank.

Since the day the C-bomb dropped (January 29th), I’ve been upset about the fact that the IRS really expects me to pay taxes on April 15th. I’ve never heard such crazy-talk. Everyone with cancer should automatically get an extension on their taxes because, when you have cancer, doing your taxes–much less on time–is the absolute last thing you can (and should) worry about. But I’m a worrier. Therefore, I’ve been worried about both my stoopid cancer and how in the hell I’m going to do my taxes. And by “do” I mean paying someone else to do them because I’m too worried I’ll screw them up.

I usually do my taxes in late January or early February. I close the door to my office, crank up the space heater, and let the receipts pile up like snowdrifts. I like the routine. I like the predictability. But, most of all, I like the office supplies. I adore office supplies. Last December, my Christmas stocking bulged with a box of my favorite pens, a collection of fashion binder clips, and six different styles of Post-it Notes. Normally, I stash these treasures in my desk and dole them out carefully throughout the year, but at tax time, I indulge my every office-supply fantasy. Everything from flower-shaped Post-it Notes to neon highlighters, even my fancy binder clips come into play. But this year, not even the sight of pretty office supplies could coax me out from under my cancer rock.

So, last week, in a session with my new cancer shrink,  I fretted about my taxes. We agreed that baby steps were needed. So, Friday afternoon I dug my 16-page tax booklet out from under three months worth of crap and called it a day. On Saturday I gazed at the sad, empty pages of the worksheet and I felt myself getting sucked in. The pull of the familiar. The comfort of routine. Yes, the lure of my taxes.

Sunday, as I started penciling in numbers, rubbing out mistakes with my over-sized pink eraser, and guiltily writing off my zillionth pair of yoga pants,  I noticed something weird happening. The more progress I made on my taxes, the more my mood lifted. To be honest, my taxes weren’t the only thing I did last weekend, but I’d like to think they were instrumental in jolting me back to some sense of normalcy because then at least I’ll know they are good for something.

Tomorrow afternoon is my appointment with my tax lady. And, yes, she is someone you’d describe as a lady. In fact, she resembles the Church Lady in poise, hairstyle, and demeanor. Right down to how she purses her lips when I mention my “partner.” I’m pretty sure, after I leave, she kneels down in her wood-paneled office and prays for my heathen soul. But, hey, I live in the middle of Indiana–a girl can’t afford to be choosy. So, maybe I’ll play the breast-cancer card in hopes that she’ll give me a 10 percent discount or offer to file an extension for me for free. Or, maybe, just maybe, I’ll forget to mention it.