hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


March 28, 2012

Poor Tom's Almanac: Sweating out another IRS season


As good as I am at keeping records, I cannot account for every itty-bitty thing that leaves my wallet. It probably adds up to a bundle if you counted things like the church collection and the contributions you've given to the Native Americans of Colorado.

And every year, new rules and regulations make it that much more complicated. You want to comply with the law, but all the legalese tends to rattle your senses. I'd rather have a root canal than an extraction in my income.

I'm one of those hoarders who have paperwork and records going back seven years. One tells me to hold on to every receipt from that time in case there are questions. Another says five years. Some other presumed authority tells you three years is sufficient.

I'm afraid that all this paperwork could combust into a fire and burn my house down. Despite all the attempts to scale down, I only add to the load. And not once was I put on the hot seat. Maybe some IRS official will read this column and light a match. You won't get much out of me, pal.

I almost became an accountant. It's true. I did well in a high school accounting class and decided this was a career I wouldn't mind entertaining. Matter of fact, I enrolled in Boston University as an accounting major way back when. I could have been figuring out your tax returns instead of writing a column about this very subject.

What they didn't tell me was that the major didn't kick in until my junior year. And when it did, the whole idea was a disaster. I remember sitting there taking my exam when I recanted. This wasn't for me. I handed back a blank test and switched my career choice to journalism. True story.

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