Taxes and marriage. It just doesn’t flow as nicely as Love and Marriage, or Sex and Marriage, or basically ANYTHING and Marriage. However, you cannot escape the fact that each year April 15th marks the date a tax return should be filed by you and your spouse. My question today is, how many of you are involved in this process?
After researching this question using my usual high tech, PI methods, I didn’t find what I suspected. Instead, I found a lot of nothing on the subject. However, I did find a lot about the financial roles spouses play in a marriage. Traditionally, the male takes on more of the planning, and the wife manages the daily cash flow. But, none of this information translated these roles into how taxes are handled.
I don’t give up easily. It’s a trait of the trade.
When I didn’t find what I was looking for I turned to less scientific, but no less valid methods. As you can guess, I know a lot of people in many different walks of life – so I simply asked them: how involved are you with your tax returns?
Their answers didn’t surprise me, but then, I’m not surprised by much.
I found what I expected. Most women agreed.
Ignorance is bliss.
But I disagree. And here’s why
When else in your life do you really believe ignorance is the right choice?
Finding the truth, uncovering any lies or inconsistencies is something we all strive for elsewhere in our lives. It is what keeps me in business! So, why would anyone choose their financial picture to be the piece of their life to intentionally turn a blind eye to?
Here are their arguments.
I trust him.
So did Ruthie Madoff!! And, even if he is the most trustworthy guy in the world, it is important to be an active partner in something as critical to your livelihood as your taxes. Perhaps he just made a mistake, or perhaps he left out a whole piece of the picture. By remaining an integral part of the tax process, you make it less likely for you to be surprised or become an unwilling partner to something illegal down the road. Checks and balances – remember that!
I’m too busy.
This one is just ridiculous. Too busy for what? Women are notoriously busy, and notoriously able to add one more thing to their busy day. So find the time, ladies. I suggest you find the time to go through the entire process, but if it is only the end result you see, then take that time to read it carefully. It is never too late to make changes – until you sign on the dotted line.
That’s his job
This one refers back to the financial roles we play in our marriages. I understand we each have our “jobs.” I am more than happy to give some to my husband in my own household. But when it comes to our taxes, it is just too risky to have only one person responsible. Taxes take into account the financial activity of the entire household. Said another way, whatever your role is during the year, it is incorporated into your taxes. Once you sign it, you own it too. “It’s his job just won’t hold up in court!
It may be his job to gather the information, put it together, and even meet with an Accountant. However, you cannot shirk the responsibility when it comes to being sure the information is correct. Incorrect information can be determined fraudulent by our government. The risk of penalties, both financial and legal, far outweighs the risks of hurting an ego by crossing marital roles.
I urge you to take an active role in your tax returns – no excuses. In doing so, I am not suggesting your spouse is hiding anything, I am merely pointing out the importance for both heads of household to be fully aware of the financial picture they claim each year. Your signature says you are – make sure it’s true before you sign!