Tax time! I dread this time of year–not because I pay through the nose, but because I keep lousy records. Oh, I mean well. I start out with the Excel spreadsheet each year, with my nice little columns for Project name, Client, Amount due, Amount paid, Billing date, etc. But somewhere between lean January work weeks to insanely busy summer months, I lose track. Sure, I keep receipts and check stubs. But even that isn’t a foolproof system. I’ve been known to file incorrectly, meaning my check stubs end up in the folder with the bank statements, etc.

It unnerves me to be expected to be an accountant once a year. And each year, it’s the same scenario. I start out with great intentions, a “foolproof” system and without fail, I foul it up. Every year I do my own return. Every year, the IRS has to correct it. Last year, they even sent me a condescending note–“Had you filed electronically, you could have avoided these errors.” Sadly, I had filed electronically.

I’m starting to develop a real block when it comes to tax time. What I used to do every year without error is now something I do every year loaded with errors and stress. I’ve tried programs. I’ve tried asking for help. And I’m too embarrassed to go to an accountant and present my “system” for saving receipts and invoices. I need a twelve-step program where I’m taught each month one more thing that needs to be done in order to alleviate this problem again.

I’m getting better. I’m now reaching out. Friends have shared their systems. One or two may help, too. My better half has offered his template. I’ve accepted it with hope and with trepidation. What if even the most foolproof tools aren’t enough for this fool?

The beauty of tax time is that it’s over soon. The stress will end at midnight April 15th. Then I can begin a new fiscal year filled with hope and more than one floating receipt.

I hear it takes only nine months to become a Canadian citizen….

About the author