UPDATED July 17, 2019
Happy World Emoji Day! It's held on July 17 each year as a way to promote the use of emojis — like we need to do that! — and, according to Emojipedia (really!), spread the enjoyment that the colorful icons bring.
The enjoyment goal got me thinking of how emojis might make one of our worst tax tasks more pleasant. I'm talking, of course, about our annual filing of returns.
Most of us already use tax software. Surely it wouldn't be that difficult to incorporate the option of adding emojis to the lines we fill electronically complete.
Dressing up your tax return: Here are a few thoughts on which emojis could be used on our Form 1040s.
You're just getting started and you realize it's April 15 and you are totally unprepared!
One of the panicked images a la Edvard Munch's famous "The Scream" painting could work here.
If things turn from panic to full-blown fear there's always this guy.
OK. You've calmed down and are thinking about your next tax filing steps. There's still time and the software, which you're using at no cost thanks to Free File, will walk you through this. The online partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the tax software industry remains available through the Oct. 15 filing extension deadline.
But that fear soon turns to confusion. Does anyone really, truly understand all these dang tax rules, requirements and exceptions?
And while the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) might have lowered your tax rate, it really didn't make things any simpler in getting to that new tax bill amount.
Wait, you got this. Your filing status changed because you got married last tax year. And had a baby, too!
Time to celebrate the bigger married filing jointly standard deduction and your bouncing baby's added tax breaks.
No, the chip off the old block is no longer a personal exemption. The TCJA erased that. But there's a bigger child tax credit and some more tax benefits to help offset your surprisingly large child rearing costs.
Then you remember all those medical costs, both from the birth of the baby and general illness during the tax year. Those expenditures might make it more tax worthwhile to itemize instead of claiming the TCJA increased standard deduction.
Even though it takes a hefty percentage of your adjusted gross income to qualify for this itemized deduction — 7.5 percent for 2018 filings, but set to go to 10 percent of AGI for all filers, regardless of age, beginning with tax year 2019 (unless a proposal in the extenders to keep it at 7.5 percent passes) — you're pretty sure you have enough to fill out Schedule A. Yay!
Dang it, those medical costs weren't as much as you had hoped. Time to look for some more tax breaks that, of course, you legitimately qualify to claim.
Even at just 50 percent of the restaurant receipts, those hours spent talking business over that nice, but not extravagant meal are among the tax moves that can help reduce your self-employment income.
By now that dark tax angel has arrived. With all the IRS' problems, he whispers in your ear, like its continually reduced budgets, the actual audit rate nowadays is, for most middle-income filers, less than 1 percent.
You can probably nudge up those expenses a bit is and never get caught, he suggests.
Think about what could happen if the IRS calls you on some of those expenses. You are not a good liar, especially face-to-face, and will crumble under a tax examiner's questioning.
And she made sure you did so while following all the tax laws and IRS rules.
Just a joke … or maybe not: OK, this is just for tax entertainment purposes on World Emoji Day. But it might be worth considering.
The emojis I used for this post — and I'm sure you can think of many more tax instances in which to use these and hundreds of others — are already existing icons.
I'm confident that tax-inclined designers and coders can come up with images specific to filling out our varied 1040s.
And emojis and taxes already have converged in at least one place.
Residents of the London borough of Lambeth got tax bills last year that included the seriously crying emoji character next the amount of council tax they owed.
The bill, emoji and all, was posted on Twitter.
The United Kingdom's TaxPayers' Alliance said the incident was "pushing the boundaries" of the "level of professionalism" that residents should expect in communication from their local authority. And the person who posted the emoji-enhanced tax bill also was not very amused.
I get that. A message from a tax department with an emoji could be seen as a bit flippant about your money.
But when you're sending them, maybe they could be a way to lighten up the tax process if not actually the tax bills we face each year.