Nick Varney (File)

Nick Varney (File)

Unhinged Alaska: I was already grumpy, then Ma Nature took a swing

I don’t know why I find taxes taxing.

A glacial mist, goaded on by a mischievous breeze, was stealthily easing up the cabin’s steps as I stepped out on the deck to retrieve the morning newspaper.

I had spotted the opaque creature engulfing the Homer Spit when I first arose and wondered if its appetite would be satiated before it reached the level of our cabin.

It wasn’t and its aggressive rudeness and the developing wind didn’t help to quell my already sullen mood.

Nor, did the fact that the IRS had just proclaimed that we had until May 17 to file our taxes.

I wanted to get the yearly slog through paperwork and scattered receipts finished so I could move on to really fun stuff like dealing with gas prices soaring like a SpaceX rocket launch and interest rates so low, that if I had a 50 grand in savings, the monthly interest on it wouldn’t be enough for a side of fries to compliment a quarter pounder.

So, as the salt-garnished crystals somberly drew a hoary curtain over the cabin, I plodded back to my old, half-peeled, bonded-leather chair to stare at an ancient Dell as the wintery shroud attempted to squeeze the light out of the newborn dawn.

The reason I get a grump on and loathe this time of year is because I’m always balancing on the cusp of having to decide if I should take the standard deduction or jump off the accounting cliff into the swirling whirlpool of being deduction-enabled enough to realize a better refund. Which, of course, requires a safari into the wilds of our filing system that sometimes resembles more of a maze than a detailed road map of last year’s financial journey.

As I sat there rolling mental dice hoping to toss a standard deduction winner, I had a flash of sanity. Why all of the dread and uncertainty? Why all of this, once a year, angst and drama? I’m a freelance writer. A standard deduction should be an easy call.

Every time I try to itemize, I come across as a shoe-in entry into the IRS’s comedy tax return competition even though I make sure to steer clear of taking a shot at deducting pallets of printing paper, legal pads and enough printer ink to publish a metropolitan newspaper, which is standard for a couple of writers I know.

I was also taught a lesson by some business major friends who became Maalox junkies because they were always trying to beat the system and still ended up in a federal litter box full of overdue fines. It was a hell of a way to learn not to amend their returns to reflect a few weeks in Cabo with an add-on extension trip to Costa Rica as legitimate business tax deductions, presumably in support of actively seeking gainful employment as time-share specialists. The last I heard from them, they were still trying to pay off their back taxes working as valets at a dive bar in Reno and temp guides for alien tours during the winter in Roswell, Arizona.

I don’t know why I find taxes taxing. I mean there are only, property, sales, income, luxury, estate, Social Security, road, gasoline, capital gains, value added, sin, airport, pet, import, export, brew, municipal, and general pain-in-the-butt levies. Next, they’ll be taxing our income tax refund … forget I said that.

For now, I’ll just chill for another week or two. It’s closing on mid-April and the frozen shroud hovering over our abode has managed to dump another 3 inches of snow, during which, we had the pleasure of a rolling 5.5 earthquake.

I’m sure that was some sort of warning to put on the brakes and spend more quality time perusing viable return options that won’t cause the IRS to convulse in uncontrollable mirth. Meanwhile, I’m back to pondering when I’ll touch the green, green grass of home again.

Nick can be reached at

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