April 15th is an exciting day …if you work for the IRS. Imagine receiving all of those checks in the mail! Of course, you also have to shell out refunds to happy citizens who overpaid you during the year. But still, it’s a big payday for the US Government!
Last night, my husband and I celebrated the completion of our tax preparation with a check writing ceremony. That is, we poured two glasses of wine, brought out our checkbooks, and decided who was going to pay which tax bill. When you own your own business, you get a double whammy on tax day. You have to write a check for anything you still owe from the prior year and you have to make your first quarter estimated tax payment. It’s a lot of cash flow going out on one day.
For weeks, I’ve been fretting about this looming day of paying up. I’m thankful that we have a most excellent accountant who can help us with the complicated paperwork. It’s truly insane how complex our tax code is. Simplification is long overdue.
I remember helping my father with his tax preparations when I was a little girl. We lived in California, and at that time the state allowed you to deduct any sales tax that you paid. We had shoe boxes full of receipts for groceries, clothing, school supplies, etc. My father would set up camp on the dining room table and I would help him sort the receipts into neat little piles so that we could capture our tax deductions. After careful sorting, each pile was topped with a stapled paper tape receipt from an old time manual adding machine, circa 1966. I actually had a fun time helping him with this. Twisted, I know.
Now as an adult and a tax payer in my own right, my goal is to be prepared in advance for tax day. I schedule our initial meeting with our accountant in early February. I have tax preparation on my mind for weeks leading up to April 15th. I have reminders in my calendar. I drive my husband crazy with the focus on getting our taxes submitted on time.
Am I boring you with all of this detail? What’s the point of this blog? The point is that tax day is very taxing indeed. Not only financially, but also emotionally and physically. It’s a relief to get those checks in the mail. To be done with it…at least for another year, or until June 15th when the next estimated tax payment is due.
The best advice I’ve ever received about taxes
There are two pieces of sound advice that I’ve received about taxes and business ownership and life.
The first illumination came from our next door neighbor, Ted Fleming, who often serves as an informal business adviser. Ted actually helped to edit my first book, Networking Ahead for Business. He’s a brilliant man, wonderful neighbor, all around superb human being, and a grill master, too! We are lucky to live next door to him and his wonderful wife Kathy.
One year I was complaining about the amount of tax that I had to pay and Ted said, “If you want to pay less tax, then make less money.”
As a business owner focused on growing my business, that was a shocking piece of sarcasm. Make less money? Where’s the success in that?
The second best piece of tax advice came from my Accountant. She surprised me because I thought accountants were all about tax-reduction strategies. She’s proven to have very good sensibilities about business ownership…and life. I like her. I trust her. I value her advice.
She counseled me “Don’t undertake complicated maneuvers or decisions about your life or future just to save money on taxes. Pay the taxes and live your life as you want it to be.” I found that advice really liberating!
It’s best to keep one’s sense of humor during tax season
In closing, let me leave you with these humorous quotes on the subject of tax. There are some things we simply cannot control (no matter which political party is in office), so we need to keep our wits about us. Laugh, smile..and yes, pay your taxes!
- Isn’t it appropriate that the annual tax season begins with April Fool’s Day and ends with cries of ‘May Day!’?– Rob Knauerhase
- Today, it takes more brains and effort to make out the income-tax form than it does to make the income.-Alfred E. Neuman
- I am thankful for the taxes I pay because it means that I’m employed. –Nancie J. Carmody
- It is a good thing that we do not get as much government as we pay for. –Will Rogers
- I am proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is, I could be just as proud for half of the money.-Arthur Godfrey
- Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.- Herman Wouk
- The income tax has made liars out of more American people than golf has.- Will Rogers
- The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets. –Will Rogers
- There’s nothing wrong with the younger generation that becoming taxpayers won’t cure.-Dan Bennett
- Next to being shot at and missed, nothing is quite as satisfying as an income tax refund. –F. J. Raymond
- Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents?-Peg Bracken
- If the Lord loveth a cheerful giver, how he must hate the taxpayer! -John Andrew Holmes
- Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes, the wind will presently disappear, the taxes last us all the year. –Ogden Nash
- It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta. –Dave Barry
- Taxes: Of life’s two certainties, the only one for which you can get an automatic extension. –Author Unknown
- A person doesn’t know how much he has to be thankful for until he has to pay taxes on it. –Author Unknown
- Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list. –Charles M. Schulz (Snoopy)
- The best things in life are free, but sooner or later the government will find a way to tax them. –Author Unknown
- Taxes grow without rain. -Jewish Proverb
- What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin. –Mark Twain, Notebook, 1902
- Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a refund from the IRS, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with. -Author unknown, from a Washington Post word contest
- [funny quote 22 was depreciated on this income tax return]
- [funny quote 23 was deducted from taxable income as allowed by law]