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Write-off!

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Five more days, folks. Sunday's your last day to put something in the collection basket, or get a perm, or maybe, eat. In five days, the government that rarely "giveth" will nevertheless "taketh away." And April (a month that begins with a day dedicated to making us look like idiots) will officially become the driving force behind many an unaccustomed longing for anti-depressants.

On Monday, you'll pass grim-faced citizens loudly cursing the day, the month, the entire season, strolling the Lowe's garden display to spit at petunias.

On Monday, people will wander the streets with stunned, confused looks, carrying tear-stained 1040s, trying to convince the waitress at Starbucks (who is 19, working there for "party money" and never missed a perm in her life) that the bathroom really is a home office, or that a teenager's hormonally crazed "split personality" really should qualify him as two children.

Honestly, I'm surprised April hasn't hung its head in shame, withdrawn from the calendar, and leaped off the nearest bridge, something I'm considering myself. Because I just finished my taxes and according to my accountant, apparently I, alone, will be financing the entire War on Terror.

So, I've decided to start that writing-off stuff. The only reason I haven't done it before this is that I have no idea what it means. I thought writing something off meant I could literally subtract the cost of something, like a box of pencils or a book of stamps (or fixing the dent in my laptop created by accidentally throwing it at the speakerphone while on a three-hour call to Dell) from the total of the taxes I owe. Like, if I owed $400 in taxes, I could take $2 off for the pencils, $7.40 for the stamps, and $542.63 for the new laptop. Meaning they owed me $152.03. But this was too easy. Call me cynical.

I know now this much: Writing-off does not involve the actual act of writing. It does involve paying lower taxes, and I'm a big supporter of that. But, it also means hoarding vast amounts of paper--receipts, e-mails, mileage charts, ideas scribbled on cocktail napkins during crucial dinner "meetings" at Parizade--and filing these documents in logical, sequential, alphabetical order in a nifty filing cabinet.

I will stink at this. I never save receipts--I just write notes to myself in my check register. (Last month, while balancing the checkbook, I came upon a mistake of $235. Did I panic? Nope. Because a tiny note beside the questionable entry said, "Trust me." So, I did. I know that I would never lie to me. If the government doesn't feel that same trust, hey, that's their issue.)

I don't have room for all that paper. I can't afford a filing cabinet, because now all my money is tied up in staying alive. So I'd just cram it into the garment bag where I still keep my size-8 wedding dress, or stuff it into the hole in the dog's bed, and come tax time I'll forget where I put it, anyway.

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