Holly, who was still settling in on her bench on the opposite side of the path by the river, almost dropped her coffee in surprise.
“I thought they weren’t doing the free tax service at the library this year because of the virus,” she replied as she took a sip of her coffee.
“They’re not,” he answered proudly. “I started to go into panic mode, which led to stress levels rising, which should have led to a complete and total freak out on my part…”
Holly, his best friend, knew the drill, so she nodded in understanding.
“But then I read, in the same article about how the library wasn’t providing the free service this year, that they were ofering a free tax app through the United Way,” he finished his thought and then punctuated it with a long sip of his Snapple.
Holly raised an eyebrow. “You, Mr. Hates Change and Fears Technology, decided to use an app and do your taxes on your own?”
Aaron shrugged. “I was surprised, too, but I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try something. We both know I hate paying someone to do my taxes, and while I don’t trust computers, this program was endorsed by the same people who do my taxes for free every year.”
“So you took a leap of faith,” Holly concluded.
“Something like that,” he chuckled. “It was either that, or allow the paralyzing stress of how I was going to file my taxes consume me and ruin my life.”
“I’m impressed,” she admitted and raised her coffee in toast. “This is huge.”
“It being me, things did not go off without a hitch,” he confessed. “As I was filing, the amount of my refund was in the upper right hand corner of the screen. And it was much larger than the refund I normally get each year. So I figured I’d screwed up something, but then tried to be positive and told myself that as I entered more info, the number would come down to something less likely to get me sent to jail for tax fraud.”
Now it was Holly’s turn to chuckle. She loved the way Aaron could spin a tale because no matter how he portrayed himself in the story, it always led to laughs.
“Which led to more stress, and I’m guessing a little cursing?”
Aaron tapped his nose to indicate that she was correct. “You know me so well. And this all led to a delightful epiphany. I concluded that the reason they do the free tax program at the library, rather than at some other place in town, is because it is severely frowned upon to curse in a library.”
Aaron gave her the finger, but at least in doing so, he did his cursing in silence in public.
“Anyway, I got to the end, and the program pointed out that I filed as Head of Household, but forgot to list any dependents,” Aaron revealed. “And this is when I realized I would not be going to jail because the super helpful program had my back. I changed it to Single, and then the numbers settled down to a more expected amount.”
“For the record, I would have visited you in prison,” Holly comforted him. “I hear Federal prison is actually pretty nice. More like a vacation than hard time.”
“I will most definitely keep that in mind next time I’m considering committing a Federal crime,” he promised.
Holly lowered her mask to enjoy some more coffee, but first flashed him a charming smile in response to his comment.
“I was this close to asking you to do my taxes for me because I’ve got no problem with receiving a larger refund than expected,” she needled him from across the path.
“As I was finishing up, I wished there was a comments section because I would have used it to demand a larger refund,” Aaron continued as if he hadn’t heard her.
Holly loved an unexpected twist, so she was eager for details.
“So after fearing your refund was too large, you decided you wanted a larger refund?” she asked in such a way to set up Aaron to deliver his punchline.
“Do you really think the government represented you well over the past four years?” he was off on a rant. “After four years of that clown and his bumbling cronies trying to destroy this country, I want a refund for all the money I paid to the government. Hell, what happened at the Capitol on my birthday alone is enough grounds to refuse to pay any Federal taxes!”
“Fine,” he grumbled. “They can owe me for that when I file next year. But I don’t see why we need to pay for services that were rendered so poorly that they nearly destroyed our nation.”
“I don’t disagree,” Holly assured him. “I say you make a formal request, but maybe you should come up with a catchy phrase to help your cause. How about something like ‘Stop the Steal!’? I think that might really resonate with those Republicans who took your tax money…”