Monday, February 11, 2008

The Joys of Tax Season 2

But no matter how much I dislike doing my taxes, I know some people who feel even worse about doing them.

For instance, there is a friend of mine who worked for a call center, and at tax time discovered that he had been listed as an independent contractor. He asked his brother for tax help, not knowing that I also had to fill out self-employment paperwork. In my case, I was expecting to have to send in self-employment tax; it caught him by surprise.

The person that I know that hates tax time the most is my wife (by common law; the day after I get my Ph.D., we will go to the altar). She loathes tax time. She hates taking inventory (something I do not have to do as a writer unless I do a self-published project), and she is not very good with numbers.

Quite honestly, she might be the cause for the stereotype that artists are not good with numbers. And trying to convince her to keep up with her business paperwork is like trying to pull a rotten tooth out of a T-Rex. Her year end paperwork wouldn’t be so bad if she made an attempt to keep some rudimentary paperwork.

I learned to do paperwork when I was managing a restaurant for the Renzios brothers. Daily paperwork was a necessary part of the manager’s job. Switching to being a freelance writer, the habit of daily paperwork followed me from that job. It is of a different kind, but I try to make sure that it is done when it needs to be done.

When does paperwork need to be done? Simple, while the events (income, expenses, submissions, rejections) are still fresh in your mind. Any time that you put off paperwork that you are going to need later more than a week, you are going to be in big trouble.

The wife does paperwork four times a year--always when some tax work (state and/or federal) is done. And it is always a nightmare. If I didn’t already do paperwork and bookkeeping on a regular basis, watching the problems that she creates for herself would convince me that paperwork needs to be done on a regular basis.

Fortunately, I do not need to learn this lesson; unfortunately she still needs to learn it. Maybe this year, she will; but I doubt it.

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