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Vanessa is a person who loathes tax season.

LOGAN: We’re approaching a very painful time of year for you.

VANESSA: I don’t like to talk about it.

Ha, I know. But you said that you would, with me, just this once.

To help people.

Right, to help people. Because it’s important that people know they’re not alone, in their fear of taxes.

It’s not a fear, it’s more like a natural reaction to one of the most terrible things invented by man. And I hate that word, please don’t say it.


Yes. That word.

Describe the feeling that you get when I say “taxes.”

Revulsion. Terror. Rage. My stomach drops, my heart beats faster. I taste bile.

Would you call it a “trigger word”?

Yes. Yes. It is a legitimate trigger word and I don’t understand how some people can just drop it into normal conversation. Totally inappropriate.

Well you know for some people, the t-word means a refund.

Well good for them, you know? But have a little respect, a little awareness that not everyone is as lucky as you in this world. People ask about how your filing is going like they’re asking about the weather. Disgusting.

What exactly is your relationship with the IRS? I’m sorry to ask this but I think it’s important.

We don’t have a litigious relationship yet but we may be headed there, I don’t know. That’s in their hands. I’ve been freelance for the past five years, which means my checks don’t come with taxes taken out, and I’m supposed to pay “estimated taxes” four times a year, which I have not ever done once because I don’t have enough money to do that. It’s not an option.

So have you just … never paid taxes?

The first couple years I didn’t make much money, I was living at home so it was OK, and I owed, I don’t know, $1,000 each year, and put it on a credit card. So that was fine. And then the third year I made more money and when I filed I owed several thousand dollars that I put on a payment plan. And then … I can’t tell you how much I hate talking about this or thinking about this or being reminded of this. This little chat has ruined my day.

OK. so you paid some taxes and then you haven’t paid some taxes, basically. You need to pay a lot of taxes.

Yeah, so I pay a monthly payment towards the 2011 amount, and I’ve been ignoring all inquiries about when I’m going to pay my 2012 amount, and if I even think about my 2013 amount I’m going to owe, I’m going to have to get up from this table and find a receptacle to vomit in.

Do you have a plan?

Yeah, the same plan everyone in dire financial straits has, to get a really good job or win the lottery and pay it all off and never think of it again.

I’m familiar with that plan.

I know you are, and frankly I don’t understand why you even wanted to have this conversation. I’ve seen you flinch when a TurboTax email alert pops up on your phone. You can’t delete that (stuff) fast enough.

You are right. You’re right. But I’m glad to know we’re in this nightmare together. 

Yeah and the more of us there are, the slimmer our chances of being audited. At least that’s what helps me sleep at night.

This post originally appeared on The Billfold.

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