W2, or the tax form is one document that gets shoved in between the grocery lists till it is the 11th hour. Come April 15th and everyone’s Facebook wall is filled with updates about how much they hate doing taxes. Frankly, filing for taxes is worse than doing laundry, a task so unchallenging that you postpone it till you run out of underwear and are compelled to wear mismatched socks. In one out of my four years of tax filing, I have actually missed the deadline. It is something that keeps sitting like a log in your work schedule and you never want to get started.
However, things get somewhat rosy once you are done with your taxes. As a student, you pay a meager amount as taxes and get most of it as returns. The same continues once you graduate from school but are still on OPT. Last year I actually made a trip to Hawaii after getting my tax returns. This year I was hoping for something similar, wondering whether to go to the Bahamas or to the Virgin Islands when I get tax returns. Things changed and I had to come back to India, which also meant I needed to finish my taxes a month before the deadline. It took me 2 days to find my W2 hidden in the hinterlands of somewhere and then another 2 days to figure out what I am supposed to do. I was still hoping I would make a small fortune from the tax return money and fund myself a trip to Europe when I realized with a broken heart that not just do I not get any refunds, but I owe the IRS some $ 1,000.
Don’t even ask me about the rationale behind it. It seems part of the fiscal year was spent with me being on my student visa and other part on a work permit, and there was some sorry story about how not enough was deducted while I was earning. Not that I was too interested in listening to the reasoning, given that I was left without a job, without any earning, without a husband to fall back on, without any self-esteem, and without a trip to Europe or the Virgin Islands. IRS could take all my money, all the social security taxes I paid and got no benefits in return, my savings, my ancestral property, and more if needed, and kiss my big you-know-what !!! No prizes for guessing, I was livid.
If only I could claim the sexy bartender I met at Hawaii as a dependent. If only I could claim buying a new car or a new house. If only I was dating an IRS guy. If only I had carefully saved those receipts of furniture donated to Goodwill. If only there were tax-deductible lay-off packages. If only I was retiring. Or getting myself a brand new husband. Or a job. The possibilities of saving on taxes seem endless now. If only ….