By Norma Kirkpatrick

Guest Columnist

Accountants know how to keep a ledger balanced; make financial suggestions about records; and encourage saving receipts to verify deductions. Of course, that is only a few of their services. They grow in popularity at this time of year; something of a love/hate relationship. Folks want immediate service if expecting a large tax return. On the other hand, they are not in a hurry if they owe money, preferring instead to keep living in the world of “let’s pretend.”
Though most forms are filed electronically now, the April 15 deadline still exists; mandated by the IRS. True, one can file an extension, but that still takes math and probably an estimated payment. Since filing is more efficient now, I don’t know if there are still long lines at the Post Office where procrastinators stand on one foot and the other, trying to meet the tax deadline they knew was coming all year. I imagine April 15 is a very busy day for postal employees.
My son-in-law is a skilled CPA with all of the latest computer programs, equipment, and faithful attendance at required seminars.  Knowing he wanted to become a CPA by the time he was in high school, he followed his life’s dream by setting his goal and headed straight for it. Now his family breathes and lives by the beat of his tax season schedule as the pace accelerates.
If you aren’t a numbers person, you might be visualizing my son-in-law as a nerd hunched over a desk. Not so; he is handsome with wavy black hair that I wish I had.  And also, most people don’t know he has a singing voice as smooth as silk. Back when he was dating my daughter, before he became a CPA, I thought it strange that such a young man got excited over perfectly sharpened pencils and wore a guard in the pocket of his white shirt to keep from ruining it with graphite from the lead pencils. He always wanted to keep score when we played games (back when families did that). He kept score in his head. I always checked him on a notepad; hoping to catch him in error. I never did. I have not met many people with such pre-determination toward an occupation, or any other goal, as my favorite son-in-law. It is safe for me to say that since I only have one.
I have heard people say they wanted to be a movie star, or Miss Alabama, or win “The Voice.”  Even those goals take work, preparation, determination and talent, with a narrow chance of being chosen. As they get older, those same people have their fingers crossed that they can pay their bills – and the tax man.
There is something good to be said about knowing ahead of time what profession or occupation you want to pursue. If you start early enough, you still have time to change your mind and perhaps make another choice if you are unhappy with your first decision.  Floating aimlessly is living in the world of “let’s pretend,” only to wake up to realize you have reached the deadline unprepared.  I’m not just talking about taxes here; I’m talking about life. The Tax Man Cometh for all of us, in one way or another; at one time or another. There is always a reckoning.
Check your life ledger to see how you are doing with your days, your talents, your private dreams, your goals and relationships. It’s not too late to work on balancing your life books if you do it now.  That is something no one else can do for you. I know there will be a deadline someday. Don’t get caught unprepared and have to pay a penalty.
Kirkpatrick is a guest columnist for the Opelika Observer. She is a wordsmith who has contributed to teaching materials, magazines and newspapers. She also collaborates with authors on literary projects and writes an occasional poem.  She can be reached at