Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is city editor of the Napa Valley Register.

Wouldn’t we all like to have figured out our income taxes by now and have big fat refunds coming our way?

I’d even be willing to owe the IRS — forget the refund — if I could end the dreary chore of filing right now.

February was packed with ideal tax prep weekends. Wet and cold. What else are you going to do in such conditions? Sandbag?

Only I procrastinated. I’d received most of my income statements, but lacked the will to do anything with them.

What I needed was a partner.

Let’s get a jump on things, I said to Cheryl, hoping she might spur us forward.

She was non-responsive.

Hey, I said, trying another tact. We’ll both feel lots better when we’re done with this. Then we’ll splurge on a reward.

More silence.

Her internal IRS clock wouldn’t chime until the end of March ... at the earliest. I’d just have to be patient.

We’re a TurboTax family. We like it that the company knows our financial history and can populate IRS forms with Courtney data the moment we logon.

TurboTax makes tax prep seem screw-up proof. Once you logon, that is.

Instead of knocking off our taxes in February, I spent weekends doing everything but. Weed-pulling, check. Walks with umbrellas, check. Ponder my financial security, check.

My IRS anxieties boiled over when March arrived. I lay awake the night of March 1, thinking, If not now, when? Do I want to be the last American to file?

I awoke that Saturday morning with an aggressive attitude. I would carpe diem, or the English equivalent.

Cheryl must have sensed my new determination. She asked if it was OK if she skipped out for a bit.

This was better than OK. It fit with my master plan.

I can’t do taxes with another person in the room. It’s too nerve-racking for the both of us.

Her mission, if you must know, was to go shopping for a couch pillow. Something that said “springtime.”

I do not judge. I’d have accepted shopping for a mother of dragons costume for the final season of “Game of Thrones.”

Then there I was, alone with my stack of financial documents, with Pandora’s Emmylou Harris station cranking out Texas-lonesome songs.

The music, my mug of coffee, my sense of now or never — it all combined to make me slightly euphoric. Showdown time with the IRS. Bring it on!

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Following Turbo’s lead, I shuffled and reshuffled my papers in search of numbers and more numbers. Some searching had to be done online.

Our financial lives are so simple there isn’t much room for fudging on the federal and state returns. Most of the particulars have already been reported by employers and financial institutions. My primary task was not to make typos.

I happily clicked away as Willie Nelson worked his way through “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and Emmylou sang “Save the last Dance for Me.”

The music made all the difference.

Eventually I ran out of numbers, but still needed critical info from Cheryl who, as I said, was out feathering our nest.

Judging from news reports, this could be a big “owe” year, but I’m not sweating it. It’s nice to get a refund, certainly, but even nicer, win or lose, is being done with this tax business.

When Cheryl returned, I reported making great headway in her absence. The music almost propelled me to the finish line, I said, but I’ll need your help.

Cheryl only smiled. She’d found just the right pillow. Taxes could wait.

I complimented the pillow, then complimented myself. “How lucky you married me, Cheryl — a guy who volunteered to take the lead on family taxes.”

Cheryl wasn’t impressed.

Filling in boxes on TurboTax isn’t that special, she said.

“It’s data entry.”

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Kevin can be reached at 707-256-2217 or Napa Valley Register, 1615 Soscol Ave., Napa, 94559, or kcourtney@napanews.com.


City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.