Perth Diary Articles

Taxing

It’s the end of the financial year here in Australia. Elsewhere, tax time comes in April.

Unlike most people, I don’t find filling out my tax return forms boring or tough. Except maybe for depreciation which I am sure no mere mortal is capable of understanding anyway.

I won’t lie. Money matters do stress me out in much the same way that they do affect other people. So it’s not that I am not stressed about money or that I have a lot of money (I don’t).

 

Tax Day by MoneyblogNewz via Flickr

I do, however, value my independence a great deal. So even though I hate bills and paying them as much as other people do and even though I spend my days wondering if I am ever going to be able to keep the cat in enough cat food to stop her pinching mine (probably not, she’s a bottomless pit), I also love that it means that it’s all down to me.

 

Me. I am responsible. I am the one who has to find the money each week for rent, for bills. When I do my taxes, I am reminded that I am the one who has to keep this little business of mine afloat. So when the end of June comes, if I am alive and have earned something and even better, made a profit – I am thrilled. It’s a reminder that I can do this.

Because let’s face it. The general assumption back home is that, yes, I get a job but that I also get married early, have kids, get a house and be housewife, income earner, mother all in one big package. Run my own business? Further my education? Hell, even though my mother waited till her kids had left the nest to get her PhD, she was still scolded by other people for not staying at home with her husband – for daring to move above her station.

Thankfully, as far as my family is concerned, a person’s station is where they choose to have it, where they choose to be. And ok, to other people, this family is just plain bizarre: my father doesn’t seem to mind what we all do, my mother runs off to other countries to do esoteric PhDs and work for not for profits, my sister waltzes off to finish her degree but then also runs away every weekend to join the circus on the side and I – I sit in a garret from the late 1800s, drink absinthe and Coke, eat chocolate, rave at people about their commas, have deep and meaningful conversations with scientists and sporadically write a few words on a novel I’ve been working on for about six years now. Also neither my sister nor I are married yet – quelle horreur! What is our mother thinking?

And then I talk about how much I love tax time. Which means of course that I must be really off my rocker but I do like filling in forms. I like being independent and I love that when I do my tax return I feel like I am doing well at my business though growth is slow. And each year at tax time I re-evaluate: what do I need to do differently in the next year? Where does the money need to be spent? Where do I need to increase the income?

And I do think that’s the best mindset to have with regard to these things. Almost everyone I meet considers it a pain in the neck but then I wonder, even if they do hand everything over to an accountant, do they still think about it, worry about it so much that it affects them?

At least my aversion, or that of most people I know, to taxes isn’t as bad as some people’s can be. An accountant told me the story of a journalist’s widow. She came in after his death with boxes and boxes of unfiled receipts and the like. He hadn’t paid tax for 16 years for either him or his wife and it took the entire staff in the office ages to sift through everything so they could figure out what he owed the government which turned out to be quite a large sum of course.

They say the two inevitable things in life are death and taxes but usually the tax comes before the death (unless you count death duties and tax on the estate). However, if they are inevitable,then  there’s no need to worry about them, right? They are going to happen any way.

You might as well spend time worrying about the more important things: like whether you will have enough money left over after bills etc for the cat food lest she swipe your chicken curry again.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is usually based in Melbourne but is currently flouncing around in Perth for a week for the Inaugural 2018 KSP - Varuna Foundation Fellowship. She will be at Melbourne's Continuum and online running a Writers' Bloc course in the coming weeks.

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