Notes From a Hired Pen

Tax Traditions

An ugly thing confronted me when I returned from a recent trip to Seattle: taxes.

It’s not so much the paying of taxes that annoy me (yes, I’d love love love to pay less, especially since freelancers pay more of them, but I also like safe roads, teachers in our schools, etc). It’s the DOING of the taxes that’s ugly. I have a lot of receipts that need to be counted. Yes, I could make things easier for myself this time of year but counting receipts every quarter, but I like to get them all done in one long shot instead of multiple doses.

I have two traditions when doing my taxes:

1. Watch something funny. I burn through a season – or many – of a new-to-me TV show while doing taxes. I can’t do dramas because then I need to pay attention. This is more funny background noise. Previous winners include Hotel Babylon (which is a melodrama but very funny at times), Las Vegas, Fraggle Rock and Arrested Development. This year’s candidates so far include Archer and Burning Love.

2. Have a drink – but only one. I get one glass of wine a night. Otherwise I might not be able to count well.

That’s it. Want tips? I have two: save all of your receipts (even if you don’t THINK it will be write off), and hire an accountant who has experience with taxes of the self employed. Beyond that, I suggest contacting a pro because I can offer you advice, but taxes aren’t my speciality. Writing is. I pay someone else to deal with the IRS in the same way I hire someone to cut my lawn, paid a web designer, and work with a stylist to pick out clothes (though she’s paid by Nordstrom, not me). The frustration in doing all of those tasks myself (yes, including the clothes picking) is just not worth it.

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One Response to “Tax Traditions”

  1. Jennifer Fink says:

    My tax tradition: Do it in small bits. I keep records of my income and expenses throughout the year, but when the time comes to pull it all together, I approach it (at least initially) 30 minutes at a time. That way, it’s not so completely overwhelming — and it doesn’t waste an entire day.

    I also put on some fun music.

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