What is it about basic organization that I seem incapable of mastering? I imagine I’ve kept careful records, I delude myself that four drawers full of carefully categorized file folders have organized every important piece of paper that comes into the house (and thousands of faintly important, maybe-important, and irrelevant pieces of paper). In my mind, it looks good…if sometimes cluttered. I am, in a word, organized!
Well, until someone asks me a direct question. Last night the new accountant e-mailed a few innocent queries.
No. 1. How much is your social security income before taxes and medicare deductions?
Uhm…not very much.
No. 2. How much is deducted for Federal and AZ taxes?
No. 4. Did you receive a statement from the state of AZ showing the taxable amount of your sick pay? Were any taxes withheld?
You would think so. But if I did, I can’t find it. Yes, taxes were withheld. The only record I can find is notes on a telephone conversation with the lady who runs the RASL program.
No. 5. Please forward a copy of your latest MCCD pay stub. The one I have is dated 09/24/2010.
Okay. You do realize that through this entire semester, no two community college paychecks have been the same? Does that matter?
No. 6. How much was your Fidelity IRA distribution? Was it from a Roth or a regular IRA? Were any taxes withheld?
Who, what? Where, why? When?
No. 9. Are you getting a new A/C unit that will qualify for the tax credit?
Far as I can tell. The AC guy says it’s worth $1,500.
The only reason I could answer that last one is that the receipt is still sitting on my desk, yet to be filed.
Social Security totally flummoxes me. After they took away an entire month’s benefit check as punishment for my having committed the sin of earning a few bucks more than the earnings limitation, they turned around and announced they had recalculated my benefit and were raising it. I have never been told the dollar amount that is withheld for federal taxes, and as far as I know Arizona doesn’t tax Social Security. If it does, I don’t know how much or whether Social Security withholds state taxes. When I try to figure out what the gross must be, assuming they’re withholding 15% for federal tax and nothing for state tax and $110 for Medicare, I come up with a gross on the new “increase” that’s smaller than it should be if I were paid the original gross the entire year.
Such a vast flood of paper pours into my house that I’ve developed a flinch reflex about any form to fill out, any document from a threatening official agency such as the federal government or an insurance company, and most anything that requires a response from me. Every day I walk past the recycling bin coming in from the mailbox and dump everything that looks like advertising or pointlessness into the trash. The mailman delivers so much garbage that in a week the four-foot-high bin is half-full before I’ve tossed the newspapers and all the overwrapping that swaddles every product we buy.
That still leaves me with mounds of paper to have to sort through, try to understand, figure out what to do with, and file. Right now, after just a week, my desk and kitchen counter are covered with the stuff!
And file it I do. But once it’s filed in those tidy drawers, it’s effectively lost.
Oh god. Just writing about this is giving me another throat spasm. I’ve gotta get up, feed the hound, and go for a walk.
Image: Paper recycling in Ponte a Serraglio, Italy. By H005. Public domain.
Wait. You think I exaggerate? Check this out:
The boggle minds!