How to Pay Your Taxes. April 15 is almost upon us, meaning it's time to carefully weigh your financial condition and set aside enough funds to...oh, who are we kidding? Nobody likes paying taxes, and nobody enjoys reading articles about how to pay taxes (and let's not even mention how much writers enjoy being assigned articles about paying taxes for the supposed benefit of readers who don't enjoy paying taxes). Anyway, here's how to ease your way through this annual ordeal:
Fill out the return. Not by yourself-what are you, nuts? Unless you have an advanced degree in particle physics, give your documentation to a certified accountant, whose job it is actually to know subsection C of clause 642 of the 1997 Defense of the Endangered Minnow Act to which some enterprising Republican attached a graduated capital gains amelioration rider.
Pay for the return. Collecting a tax return from an accountant often results in a classic standoff: You want to see what he's done before you pay him, and he (knowing how atrociously little money you made in 2006) wants to be paid before he gives it to you. It's no use arguing; the CPA will always win. Slip him the check, but make sure he sticks around as you check his paperwork.
Yell and scream. Bonus points for using any of these sample phrases: "What do you mean, I can't claim my roommate's cat as a dependent?" "Well, I paid for that wide-screen TV, and I watch it while I'm thinking about work, so of course it's part of my home office!" "Social Security, my foot-you think any of that money will be left by the time I retire?"
Complain to everyone you meet. Theatrically ripping open the top buttons of your shirt and crying, "I've already given them everything I have! Do they want this, too?" is a good way to get sympathy, but if you want to be a real pro, get hold of some sackcloth and ashes and whip yourself with a medieval scourge as you trudge down the street. (The ashes are easy enough to procure, but for the sackcloth and scourge, you're on your own.)
Pay up. Usually, the IRS prefers you simply mail a check, but you'll make a real impression if you stuff 100 pounds of quarters into one of those cartoon moneybags (you know, the kind that are always piled up on Scrooge McDuck's desk) and mail it to the Feds fourth-class bulk. They'll remember your name for years to come, and that's exactly what you wanted, right?
Bob Strauss is the author of "The Big Book of What, How and Why" (Main Street, 2005) and "Who Knew? Hundreds & Hundreds of Questions & Answers for Curious Minds" (Sterling Innovation, 2007). He is a regular columnist for Match.com/MSN Dating & Personals, and has written for dozens of publications, including specialty science and medical magazines and popular glossies like Entertainment Weekly (where he was a contributing writer for seven years).