Tuesday, April 18 is Tax Day and this is your last shot. You’ve had almost four months and you’re still looking for that 1099 you left in the front pocket when you did the laundry. Now there’s almost no time to spare, so be sure to follow these instructions carefully:
Begin with Line 7 (Lines 1 through 6 are only for chumps) — Enter wages, salaries, tips, coins found in bottom of vending machines and the $5.02 check you just got for being a member of a class action lawsuit that you had no idea you were a member of.
Attach Forms W2, 1099, 1099 E, 1099 R and W3 EZ, which isn’t.
Line 9a — Ordinary dividends. Attach Schedule B and American League Schedule Central Division, Chicago White Sox-Cleveland Indians.
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Line 10 — Look through back of the closet, behind the beach sandals, to find taxable refunds, credits or offsets of state and local taxes. If you understand what “offsets of state and local taxes” actually are, you can skip to Line 14 and also get a free Coke next time you’re at Food Lion.
Line 14 — Alimony received. You can only put a number in this column if you actually were divorced and received alimony. However, if you are still married but argue regularly over one spouse always being late and wonder what it would be like to be on time, go to Line 29.
Line 17 — Capital gain (or loss). If you have lost capitals, even if they are for letters you don’t particularly like, such as K or Q, you can put them down here. Capital vowels have less value, unless you’re near the end when you can stick an E in wherever you want.
Line 19 — Rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations, trusts, etc. If you have any of these, you should be asking yourself the question, why are you so cheap you are doing your taxes yourself? Hire someone.
Line 21 — Other income. This can be from your lemonade stand, your classified ad trying to sell the cage for your gecko who died in 2007 and any poker winnings if you know how to play poker. Or even if you don’t know how to play poker but still won because you were damn lucky and it’s really not a game of skill.
Line 22 — Add the amounts in Lines 7 through 21, making sure to carry the 3 from the tens place and the 2 from the hundreds place. If there’s something in the thousands place, it’s your turn to pay for lunch next Tuesday.
Line 23 — This is your total income, which isn’t bad if only a Starbucks’ caramel macchiato wasn’t eight bucks.
Line 25 — Subtract from Line 23 Line 17, Line 11 and Line 8, because subtraction is commutative. Or maybe that’s multiplication?
Line 26 — Add lines 23 through 35 even if you haven’t gotten to Line 35 yet. Just round up.
Line 87 — Subtract Line 55 from Line 47. If Line 55 is more than Line 47, you’ve made a horrible mistake and will have to start all over again. Luckily, you still have four hours.
Neil Offen can be reached at email@example.com. Past columns can be found at www.theneiloffencolumn.wordpress.com.