by EMILY ORTON
Taxes have generated grief for millennia. Jesus was born in a stable instead of at home with friends and family to help out because of tax season. In a 1789 letter, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
If you’ve been here very long, you know that I love thinking about death—not in a macabre way. The uncertain timeline inspires me to live more consciously—somewhere between navel gazing and BASE jumping. Existentialism is my jam.
Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice. It is the view that humans define their own meaning in life, and try to make rational decisions despite existing in an irrational universe.
Even though I’ve been a taxpaying existentialist since 1990, this was my first year viewing taxes as an inventory of my life—my personal values and credibility—not just my financial ebb and flow. You could call this a tax existension. Existential + Extension? I don’t have to be a dad to tell dad jokes, right?
Full disclosure—Erik is the one who prepares the taxes at our house with an assist from Turbo Tax. I prepare what I call a “tax bake,” which basically means I provide brownies or cookies for the guy in the chair. We’re currently both happy with this arrangement. I know because I offered to prepare the taxes this year and Erik was like, “Uh…no.”
We sat at the same kitchen table. We tapped our collective memory about old expenditures. What we spend our money on tells stories about us.
· Remember Taco Time in Idaho last year when we first sat down with Alison’s (now ex) fiancé?
· What’s this charge in Hawaii last year? That skateboard for SJ—she paid us back on Venmo.
· Why do we have back-to-back charges at this same gas station? Oh yeah, renting two cars in Finland was cheaper than getting one big car.
· Remember that pizza shop outside of Pompeii when we could barely take another step?
· Remember buying stamps at the Vatican post office and Swiss Guard told us not to sit on the steps?
“Metrics are determined by what you measure.”
My wise friend, Whitney Johnson
Whether money is part of your personal success metric or not, where we put our money is one indication of what we value. A big fat return would be nice. Either way, preparing taxes guarantees that we all get real data about our personal choices—a year in review. No life coach required. Though, if you have an LLC, you could probably deduct that…
Did we put our resources where our values are? Or do our taxes reveal a different story about what really matters to us? We’ve all heard of credit scores, but how is our personal credibility score? Are we putting our money where our mouth is? This year, I hope you discovered you are more walk than talk.
Many happy returns!
This Easter week, we’d like to share a recent podcast where Erik, and I each tell a story. No interview. It’s not about our book. Just funny, poignant, personal stories where real life and faith meet. This is the Gospel