By Alissa Lawton Special to Published Apr 15, 2011 at 2:31 AM

I have come to a point in my life where I feel like I should really have my "stuff" together. I'm not in college, I'm approaching 30, I have a full time job, a car loan, rent, etc. and I feel like I should really be on top of my game in all life's aspects. A small fraction of the time I do feel that way, but then tax season hits and I become a bumbling moron.

Actually, that's not true. I really become an expert procrastinator. I hate doing taxes. It's like my worst high school math class nightmare. I instantly break out in a cold sweat, biting my cuticles and wishing I had someone to cheat off of. I hated doing taxes when I only had one W2 to fill out and the whole process took no more than an hour, but 2010 was a whole new story.

I had a number of W2s from 2010 and a couple 1099 variations, that I'm now fairly certain were made up for the enjoyment of the IRS to keep track of how many times I Googled "how to file multiple versions of 1099 forms for Dummies." It's a joke. I've used Turbo Tax for years. They spell this stuff out exactly the way I need it, like I'm five years old. There are nice little pictures to help you with your word association. "Oh, there is a house by the part that asks about home ownership... That makes sense!"

I like that there are easy to answer questions. Like my taxes are doing the work to get to know me, not the other way around. "Come on, 1040, can't you at least buy me dinner before you totally screw me over?" But after realizing that Turbo Tax and its numerous copy cats are all a bunch of rip off (setting you up to think you can file for free, then hitting you with a ridiculous fee to complete your state return) I was highly motivated to do my own taxes this year. That's what strong, independent women like me do, right?

Upon discovering I had less than a week to complete said taxes, the first thing this strong, independent woman did was call her mom and dad. They seem to know how to fix almost everything else, why not this? Well, once again, when you have one straight forward W2 you've got it made. The minute your forms start piling up like a small paperback written in a foreign language, it's time for some reinforcements.

Upon arriving home, my roommate found me, for the second time this week, in tears over my tax forms. "Oh no, are you OK? Is it the taxes again?"

Before I had a chance to really respond, she was gone and back with a glass of wine and a deeply concerned look on her face. I blubbered something to her about not finding the right form for my miscellaneous income and, though I know she wanted nothing more than to sit on the couch and think about anything but someone else's taxes, she stuck with me, doing her best not to blurt out how slothful it was of me to wait till the last minute to start this. We both knew it was true; there was no need to say it out loud.

Come the end of the week the situation felt dire. I was ready to give up and head over to the nearest tax preparer and promise them my first born just to get this off my plate and out of my life for another year. Independent woman or not, I couldn't take it anymore. I was stressed and acting out like a toddler. This was getting personal. I was trying to do the adult thing and do my taxes myself, file before the deadline and even grin and bear it if I owed, but I felt like this was a battle I couldn't win because all the odds were against me. Accountants, tax lawyers and white-collar criminals may understand the language on Schedule XYZ. I don't.

After all of this drama in my life I've come to a few conclusions. The IRS is definitely in bed with all the H & R Blocks and Turbo Taxes of the world. There is no way that humans have figured out how to tweet from space, make 64 calorie beer and grow other humans in petri dishes, and yet the IRS cannot hire some modern day computer nerds to create easy to use tax software so we Americans can file our taxes, FOR FREE, without wanting to kill ourselves.

Since my W2 and 1099 info was already transmitted to the IRS from my employers, why can't they figure out my stinkin' taxes and send me a bill?

I'm celebrating my completed taxes on Friday with a trip to Spin to celebrate a coworker's birthday. Maybe smashing a couple ping pong balls will alleviate any lasting pent up stress from this week.

This week's blog is dedicated to my roommate, her endless encouragement in the form of red wine and reassurance that I'm not as stupid as I feel and, of course, to my parents, who year after year get roped into helping me with such matters even though year after year I vow "never again!"


Alissa Lawton Special to

Alissa grew up on the near west side of Madison and had childhood dreams of being a veterinarian. Instead she moved to Milwaukee to attend college and attained a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from UW-Milwaukee. Previously an advertising copywriter and a marketing specialist, Alissa always preferred the writing aspect of her career.

An animal lover, a shoe lover and a white wine lover, she now resides on the much beloved East Side of Milwaukee in what she describes as an ancient apartment building full of character, but lacking sufficient electrical outlets and the convenience of an elevator.

To some she comes across as a shy wall flower, to those that know her much better she is a social butterfly, usually overdressed and wearing inappropriately uncomfortable shoes for nearly every occasion. Either way you choose to see her, Alissa has a strong desire to bring awareness to the social issues in our city while maintaining a sense of humor about herself and surroundings.