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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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Madeleine Begun Kane

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Summer -- the perfect season for playing outdoor sports, becoming one with nature, ... preparing tax returns.

Don't worry -- you don't need a new pair of glasses. You read me right. I and countless other suffering U.S. citizens are still doing (or thinking about doing) our 2000 taxes. But does anybody care about us? Besides the itchy IRS?

Every year the media stops talking about taxes once April 15th has come and gone, and I, for one, resent it. For the first three and a half months of each year, newspapers, magazines, and tv shows are glutted with tax tales, admonitions, and advice. Then, suddenly, silence. Sure they have fun with that final story featuring gazillions of "last minute" filers swarming post offices at 11:59 p.m. on April 15th. Television reporters asking frenzied filers why they waited so long. Camera shots of frantic taxpayers as they use walls as desks, scribble random numbers, struggle with calculators, count on their fingers, and untie their shoes to use their toes.

But after that final photo-op, the media rushes on, leaving the true last minute filers to cope on our own. Not a word of post-April 15th counsel or encouragement for the hordes of procrastinators who requested extensions and face that August 15th deadline all alone. And who fervently wish they hadn't tossed all those tax-tip columns in the trash. I, on behalf of all of us, say "No Fair!"

Don't laugh; this is a very serious problem. Do you have any idea how many people are, at this very moment, surrounded by incomprehensible tax forms and unreadable receipts, trying to figure out whether that note they scrawled on a napkin is really important, looking wistfully out their windows at frolicking filed-on-timers? I don't know how many either, but I'm sure it's a lot.

On behalf of late filers everywhere, the tax-return-challenged, the filing-impaired, we desperately need your help. Here's what you, the concerned citizen, can do:

1. Write President Clinton. He will surely feel our pain.

2. Write your Congressman. Chances are, he hasn't paid taxes in years.

3. Write Republican Presidential Nominee Bush. Demand that he speak out for taxpayers suffering from the Procrastinator Penalty.

Will I write such letters? Of course not. I'll be too busy with my taxes.

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