Uppermost House: Is lasagna tax deductible?

PeterLewisTreehouseCMYKBy S. Peter Lewis

BN Columnist

If I’ve ranted before about taxes and you didn’t like it, you may want to skip this. If you enjoyed my past IRS histrionics, then please enter your shoe size on line 14b, divide by an ear-to-ear grin, enter the result (as a primary color) in the box marked “favorite imported GMO condiment” and keep reading, preferably by LED (to offset your carbon footprint allowance).

I have no problem paying taxes. By that I mean that I have no intellectual or moral or social-convention problem with paying taxes. If we didn’t pay taxes a lot of important stuff wouldn’t get done. And I’m not setting you up so I can levy some esoteric guffaw on you — I really mean it. We need national defense, good highways, an excellent judicial system, and we really need to spend $186,406 to determine if cocaine enhances the sex drive of Japanese quail (just Google that last one, and have a bucket handy in case you feel ill).

My problem is not the concept of paying taxes (except for that quail-thing, of course), or my duty to do so (insert flag waving); my problem is with the execution of the thing. Specifically, my ability to fill out the stupid forms. Or lack of ability, I should say.

Our taxes here at the Lewis homestead are more complicated than most people’s because we’re just more complicated people. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant or condescending, it’s just true. My son once showed me a photograph of a utility pole he took in Mexico. Wires of all description going in every direction, crossing over each other, some tight while others dangled, wires ending in frays, wires doubling back on each other, wires spliced into other wires by electricity poachers trying to watch The Big Bang Theory for free, and the whole thing sparking and ancient and tipped precariously and ready to fall onto a rusting 1981 Corolla. Our taxes are that kind of complicated. And I suppose it’s by choice, although I can’t remember doing the choosing.

So this year, I sit at the kitchen island with my laptop running (where I can see all my financial data), my piles of receipts, and all those blasted forms (draft versions, done in pencil). Beside me is a cup of coffee so strong I can float a rusty horseshoe in it. My wife, Karen, is on the other side of the island, making lasagna.

I’ve already spent about 15 hours on our taxes, and am just now polishing up the final entries on fill-able PDF forms on the laptop. I moved into the kitchen because I like being in the same room with Karen, even if we’re not really interacting. I just like breathing the same air with her.

I’ve already gone down all the blind alleys and filled out all the such-and-such sub-forms to determine if I have to fill out some other forms at all, or not, because…well, that’s what they said to do. I think.

Anyway, the end (and the refund) is in sight, and I’m in the zone, as they say, so deep in numerical concentration that I can’t even hear properly. If Karen asked, “Do you want pine needles or mothballs in your lasagna?” I’d likely say, “Yes.”

Shortly thereafter, I declared the whole mess complete, and whilst doing so I told Karen that, “Since in 2014, we were not bitten by any alligators, didn’t have to change a flat tire in the rain, did not work for either Wendy’s or the NFL, and are not taking the lost luggage annoyance deduction (LLAD, because we weren’t all that annoyed), we may (or may not, depending on the filing status of our cat), be eligible to receive a back massages from an elf.” Hence, she just gave me the look, and went back to her pasta.

The only thing I truly enjoy about filling out the IRS forms is writing in Karen’s name and checking the “Married Filing Jointly” box. Been doing that for almost 33 years. What a blessing.

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