Tax Day

My father in law, who does my taxes every year, always says that tax day is the adult iteration of opposite day. Whatever was good for you all year suddenly becomes a liability, while your drama and trauma and failure become valuable. At no time in my life has that been more true than during graduate school.

For 364 days each year, I wish that I did not have to think twice about whether or not to buy a $5 sandwich. On April 15, I embrace my low tax bracket and wait for the government to send me a check. From a tax standpoint, graduate school certainly beats working an entry level job!

Conversely, one of the few good things that happens to graduate students--grant funding--is very bad at tax time. A windfall of a few thousand dollars can add several hundred dollars of tax liability, and without careful financial planning you can end up with a very nasty shock in April. It's imperative to save part of your grant checks to cover taxes. 

I'm not delusional. I understand that my tax return effectively subsidizes my labor and empowers my employer to continue paying low wages to graduate students. For one day, though, I conveniently forget this fact. Tax day is a good day!