Friday, April 8, 2011

"Tax Time!"

            Yes. The dreaded time of year in our household. About sixteen years ago, David began a freelance illustration business. The idea appeared, on the surface, a wonderful solution for us. David could work from the home so our son would have a parent at home at all times. In the summers, we would all be off together.
            Of course, owning your own business doesn’t mean extra time for spectacular trips. The first lesson we learned was “if you don’t work, you don’t earn.” Taking vacation time became almost impossible unless David managed to earn enough during the year to cover the week to ten days that we could do a trip. Needless to say, we managed only two or three vacations in sixteen years.
            David loved the slower pace of his days. He didn’t have to get dressed if he didn’t feel like it. He could shuffle over to his office nude if he wanted! However, there’s the stress of having an irregular income, of not knowing what the next month will bring (if anything), and of clients not paying bills “in a timely manner.” When the economy bottomed out a few years ago, David lost almost all of his business and rejoined the eight-to-five routine. He still has a few clients, though, needing his art for various projects. Enough to make tax time—stressful.
            If I make it through filing taxes without a Mount Vesuvius eruption, it’s a miracle. David’s total filing system consists of shoving receipts into a file. Each year, these receipts are transferred to a huge manila envelope with all the tax form copies. At least, that’s the plan. Last night, I’m totaling out the 2009 receipts, smugly thinking that we’ll be fine on taxes when I pull out a pretty sizable wad on software purchases. Dismay engulfed me when I noted the dates—2005! So much for that deduction.
            At any rate, owning your own business means more columns, lines, pages, schedules, and forms to file with your taxes. Even with the wonderful software available, taxes take hours and hours for me to complete. In the past, I’ve disintegrated into a screaming harpy as April 15th nears.
            But this year? Maybe retirement has mellowed me. I sat down last night, shuffled through the mess of papers, and filled out all those endless pages and schedules without bursting into tears. Even when I realized our bottom line means sending the IRS an enormous check, I didn’t utter one single curse word (those who know me well, know I swear fluently and frequently.) All I know is that tax time is behind me—until next year.
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman 

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