April 15th for the past 4 years has been a memorable date for me, a date i don't look forward to, but am really wary of as April approaches. A date always marked in red and highlighted on my calendar. And as it closes in , I begin to panic, I feel cornered, suffocated, like I have no way out..and then, helpless, I give in, and just do it!
April 15th is the last day to file taxes each year. And since I'm still a non-resident alien according to the substantial presence test, my tax forms are pretty straightforward. But they still intimidate me. Exemptions, standard deductions, tax treaties...help!!! And then the momentary terror of not locating my W2- an important piece of paper that gets mailed to us sometime in Jan... So like all hateful tasks in my life, I put it off, and keep putting it off. Until I have no choice. Then I get nightmares of being deported from the country or some such and early morning on April 15, I sit at my desk, armed with a pencil, my W2 (yippee, found it!) and a calculator and open up those ugly forms.
April 15th 2005 is still a vivid memory for me. I had already "lost" my W2 and requested for another copy earlier that week. So I'd already found a get-around to that problem and was quite happy. The morning dawns, bright and sunny, and I tell myself, I've just gotta do it now, there's no way out. The actual process is really, really, shamefully simple. So I sit down, with my chai and just get to it. We've to file federal taxes and also separately file state taxes. So I finish with my federal forms and reward myself with a break- i'm throwing a send-off party for a friend that evening, so I cook for it. Before I know it, it's time to go to lab, I've a full day of experiments planned, and those cells ain't gonna wait for no one, not even the IRS. So , you see, one's gotta do what one's gotta do. The day is busy at lab. Come evening, I realise I've to still file my state taxes.
I rush home, sit down with it. Make frantic phone calls to friends to confirm some of those numbers. Have to deal with "what, you've not yet done it??? aren't you having the party tonight??? how long is the post-office open?? are you SURE???? " grr. just give me the @#@ numbers already! Almost done. Apartment has to be cleaned up too, expecting company, remember? So I rush around doing that. Then rush back to the lab to take copies. About to head to the post-office- realise that all the folks i invited for the party would be there soon! And the non-desis, I'm sure, would be there dot on time, too! damn. So I go back home, leave the door unlocked, and a note that says "go on in, make yourself comfortable, gone to mail tax forms". Now, of course, they'd understand, no?
Now on April 15th each year, the US Postal Service is open until 12 midnight. yeah, i'm not the only one with the last-minute affliction, you see. Everyone is royally making use of that. And all forms postmarked before 12 midnight are legit. So, I live in a chota gaav that has 3 post-offices serving it. And there are almost never any traffic jams here- except during football season. What do i see here on this day tho? A huge line of cars, all leading towards to the one post-office that's open until midnight. I almost want to round-up all those folks and start that procrastinators-anonymous club i'd been thinking about for a while. So I patiently sit through the traffic, wait my turn in the long lines, buy the damn stamps, and post the forms finally, at 9 pm that night. Come back home to find all my friends, sitting around, joking about me and my last-minute disease. oh well, another year gone, and I won't be deported. Let the celebrations begin!
Cut back to the present. Yesterday, April 15th, 2006, early in the morning (early is relative- it was 9 AM ;) ) I drove to the lab, printed out my tax forms that i'd previously completed, and then drove to the post office. I walked up to the post-box, head held high, a smug, self-accomplished look on my face, and dropped the two envelopes in the mail box. I pirouetted around, strolled around the parking lot, actually saw people sitting in their car, awkwardly, filling out their tax forms, and my heart filled with pride. For the first time in the past five years, I have completed my tax returns way before the deadline, and even mailed them out! Do i rock or what???????????