1040: The Concept of Dread


Jay Hancock on the oppressiveness of tax preparation:

There are 77 boxes to complete on this year's Form 1040, each a trap door of potential perjury and fraud prosecution. Schedules, worksheets and attachments add many more.

One box depends on another, so even simple, honest errors breed multiple mistakes. Chaos-theory researchers don't need hurricane patterns or bacteria colonies when they have the tax code.

The instructions for Form 1040, by my calculation, have the same length, theme and appeal as Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death, the undergraduate philosophy staples.

Flunking Kierkegaard, however, never sent anyone to jail.

Among the details that follow:

don't forget this year's Where's Waldo deduction—for college tuition. It's not on Form 1040. It's not in the instructions. You have to either hire a psychic or read Publication 970, which basically says, "Pay no attention to everything else we said about this."

The whole column is here. Fox Trot concurs here. The forms are here. They're due tomorrow. Get cracking, people.