The effect is a mounting tax bill, higher by far than any other expense in my budget.
That brings me to another reason for negotiating the process myself. It sharpens my focus on government.
Sometimes I remind myself how lucky I am to live in this country, with its freedoms and its abundance. I support and appreciate many government undertakings.
Last summer, for example, I was grateful when first a patrol officer and later a detective showed up at my door to investigate a burglary at our home.
I like the smooth ride to work on asphalt that is kept in reasonably good repair and free of falling tree limbs, ice and other hazards.
My children received solid starts in life from tax-funded schools.
I even believe in redistribution of wealth, to a point.
But I don't agree with everything government does, and my annual confrontation with the 1040 is one reminder of why I should keep my eye on it.
Maybe it's good that the primary election follows the tax deadline by less than a month.
When I have a sense of my own financial stake, I listen more closely to what candidates are saying.
I want officeholders who share my philosophy that government's role in our lives should be limited, that the more it tries to solve all the problems of its citizens, the more it undercuts personal responsibility.
Paying taxes, after all, is a reflection of that personal responsibility. The fact that I owe taxes means I worked hard enough and made enough money to throw some into the pot for the common good.
However, I don't want my hard-earned money wasted on frivolous, wrong-minded endeavors beyond the scope of what government can do well.
Perhaps taxpayers should view Election Day as the government's deadline to report to them.
Friend is editor and publisher of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-5124 or nan...@dailymail.com.