Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Tax woes and eenie-meenie-miney-moe’s

Once a year, and usually later rather than sooner, I am compelled to do my books for my longsuffering accountant, who then tries (with frankly astonishing success) to translate my scribbles into something the taxman can actually make sense of.

I am not an account-type person, and have trouble understanding things like percentages and ratios or even, if I am completely honest, how to add two and two, so doing my books is an exceedingly painful process for me, and usually involves at least a bottle of red to get me through it. This does, unfortunately, have a bearing on why my later spreadsheets are rather more shambolic than my earlier ones, but my magician/accountant has long since learnt to factor in alcohol-induced missteps.

I know that the right way to do my books is not in a crazed drunken rush one day before the final deadline for tax returns, but regularly and soberly at every month end. I know this because my accountant reminds me of it often, when he phones or emails with increasing impatience to ask for my figures, and I tell him with increasing unhappiness that I simply can’t bring myself to try to make sense of the large box of slips marked ‘tax return’ that sits under my desk.

But, like death, tax will not be wished away, and finally the awful day comes when I have to tackle The Box. I do this by, on some random morning, rising like a zombie from my bed, immediately opening a bottle of wine and swiftly having a couple of hefty swigs, then hauling out the box and scattering its contents across the kitchen counter, all before my conscious mind can kick in and ask me what the hell I think I’m doing.

And then the fun begins.

I’m okay with the stuff that I can recognise – mainly bank-card slips that give the name of the vendor. But with alarming frequency I come across cheques made out to, for instance, ‘G de Graaff’ or ‘Lydia Verloven’ or (most worryingly) ‘cash’, for quite large sums that I simply can’t account for. When I hunt for the cancelled cheques (which happens with decreasing frequency as the day wears on, the level in the wine bottle drops, and my attention to detail wanes) there’s never any clue on them what exactly I was splashing out for. So that’s where the eenie-meenie-miney-moe comes in: I close my eyes, randomly choose a category (home improvements? stationery? computer expenses?) and write it up.

So it’s probably fair to say that my final tax return doesn’t precisely reflect my expenditure.

But then, it hardly matters, since most of my money goes to (in decreasing order of frequency and volume) grocery stores, bank charges (the bastards!), veterinarians and schools. None of which, as even I know, are even vaguely tax-deductible.

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meghead said...

I know it's my mood, but I read tax woes, as in the moer in, or very very cross.

Muriel said...

Haha! (Or LOL, as my daughter would say.) LOVE those Sefrican words! And woes as in very very cross would do just as well, in this case.

Juno said...

Ja, woes is a good word to describe how I feel about my tax return.