“Heebie Jeebies!” I shrieked, looking at the 1040 Tax Form. The words on the printed page swam nefore my eyes, constructing gibberish. I could hear the blood rushing in my ears, and somewhere, way in the back of my mind, one of the data workers spoke the words “myocardial infarction” in a stage whisper. I turned some consciousness toward the pump in my chest and counted the beats –they were at 120 which was perfect …or was 120 supposed to be the systolic blood pressure …drat. I always confuse things like that and that makes me angry. So I sent a memo to have the wordy data worker deported in the next urinary purge and took a hit of atenolol to simmer things down. Yeah, slowing down. Now, about these taxes.
I screamed with the primal empowering force of the mighty marmot, one of nature’s most clever assassins. I turned to the bank of computer stacked alone atop a laundry basket, flexed my knuckles and went to a popular tax preparation website that promised me the greatest refund possible and the reassurance that if I was audited, the tax company would send someone along to explain what I might have been thinking as I filled out the tax form they were getting ready to fill out. My screen suddenly blinked and displayed a window that said “Hey, I remember you. You had us do your taxes last year. We see that we netted you a refund of $0.00. Click below to sign up and we’ll see if we can do that well this year. Go ahead, click. CLICK. CLICK!” I clicked. The website immediately announced that it had billed my credit card on file and that I now enjoyed premium status for my 2012 tax preparation. As a returning contestant, I didn’t have to answer any of the pages of personal questions my first enounter entailed, they were copied forward from last year. They asked if anyone significant to my tax picture had passed away, and it was like my computer sighed when I answered ‘no.’ However, it seemed to get excited when it found out that I had purchased a house and then had it remodeled for health purposes and I had bought a van, also for medical purposes. My computer told me it was calculating my refund as it thought for a while.
The computer said that I needed a form two-oh-whatsit and a couple of others I didn’t recognize or understand. I pressed the help button and a window popped up that said to take the number in lne 22 of my FHA paper and type it into the answer field –or I could press Escape to have it done automatically. I hit escape. The computer swung into action, now unfettered by a mere human with only two petabytes of hormonally confused memory. After a few pleasing moments of the hum of data, the switching of electrons, the emitting of thermons things came to such an abrupt halt that the computer scootched two inches to the left. “Wow.” I said. The printer began to whir and clack.What rolled out was a list of forms that I would need to complete my taxes. The list was almost two pages long. I hit the Exit link to leave the program and it was quick to tell me that I could upgrade to the next level of service for a mere $12. I elected to pass –and was surprised when the computer said “how about $6?” I had to give that some thought. I could have a premium account for only $6 more. I had no idea what added extras being a r=premium member were, but they had to be pretty cool, right?
I decided I could always come back and go through the whole thing again later and pick up the premium membership if I needed it. I then picked up all of the papers I could find and went to a tax preparation place that advertises all the time on TV. I sat down with one of the representatives and discovered that we couldn’t say for sure up front how much my taxes would be, but we knew that to prepare them would cost $650. “Wow.” I said, thinking that seemed like a lot. The $6 premium membership was looking pretty good. I wondered if the price would drop if I left right then, kind of the way the computer tried to negotiate a back door deal. I stood up and commented that the fee was a bit beyond my budget.
“Okay!” said the representative gellfully. You have a nice day.” I was obviously dismissed.
That took me back home and back to the tax website. It remembered who I was and welcomed me back. I went to the sign up area and selected premium membership. The screen displayed a lot of reasons why I was making a gret choice by upgrading and told me it was only $65. “Harrumph!” I snorted. “I’ll fix that!” and immediately pressed the Exit link. The computer put up a cheery window that said “Goodbye!”
Wait! Where’s my deal? Why aren’t you grovelling for my $6 and lavishing premium services on me? I logged back in again and one more time it welcomed me. I repeated my steps and much in rotating door fashion, found myself logged back out after noticing the upgrde price was now $125. Holy cow! I made a few calculations and realized at the rate it was climbing, premium membership would be ten grand by lunch tomorrow. If I wanted to get the needed and wanted premier status, I’d better act now. I logged back in and almost winced as I selected the purchase page. There, like the holy grail, in shining letters the website proclaimed I could upgrade for only $6. My eyes teared up and I felt such joy cursing through my veins. I once again gave them my credit card data and approved the $6 upgrade. Ta Da! There I was, a Premium Member. And it said so right under my login info. I proudly selected the tax calculator to do my taxes. I was a premium member, there would be no list of forms for me. No! They would go find everything I needed and calculate my tax and I woud get, guaranteed, the largest refund possible.
But wait. What’s this? The computer displays the same screen it did before, telling me about all of the forms I would need to round up and submit. What’s this? I’ll have them know I’m a by God premium member, paid the extra for some first class treatment. I navigated back to the purchase page and saw that being a premium member ony meant that I would receive promotional information and offers from thrid party partners. I wanted the Ultra Membership package, not the premium. The Ultra package claimed it would deal with all needede ancillary forms. Okay, that’s better. Of course, there was the matter of the $25 upgrade. I didn’t even try to play games, I just accepted the upgrade to Utra, again proffering my credit info.
Again I went through the set up process, and this time, recognizing that I am an Ultra member, it explained that there was a list of the forms I would need to get, and I could fill those out and submit them to them, and they would forward them to the IRS free of charge.
I was angry when I arrived at the tax preparation I’d visited earlier. I dropped a fruit box jammed with papers on their reception desk and handed the receptionist a check for $650.
“You have a really nice day!” called out the receptionist.
“^@!#%#@!%#” I said, under my breath.