Every year around April 16, I take the same vow.
I promise myself that next year, I will become as obsessed with record-keeping as I am with turning off the stove.
I will enter expenses as I go into some sort of spreadsheet that calculates it all in neat little deductible categories.
I will record every nonreimbursed prescription and every noncash donation I’ve hauled to Goodwill, assign it a reasonable value and record the address of the donation center, complete with ZIP code.
I will become that person my mother said never has a messy house “because she picks up and cleans as she goes.”
And I will not be that person an accountant friend once called one of “the great unwashed.”
“They come to me with their shoeboxes,” he moaned, “and say, ‘Here you go. Figure it out.’ ”
My annual resolution has notable problems.
One is that by the time I make it, we already are more than a quarter into the next tax year. By then, I’m so over the process of picking through records and receipts that I can’t bear another evening – even in front of Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” – getting up to date.
Plus, I ask myself, isn’t it better to do a boring task all in one big lump than extend the agony by making myself do it all year? There’s definitely something to be said for pulling the Band-Aid off fast rather than feeling every hairy receipt as it’s extracted.
Besides, this year, with so much hoopla about the new “simplified” tax law and its big standard deduction, I talked myself into the fact that I probably wouldn’t need the information anyway.
I probably should have mentioned this to my tax preparer early on – like maybe at the end of 2017, when the law was passed. Instead, I just brought it up the other day.
“Oh, no,” he said. “We should definitely run a comparison.”
Tax preparers can be such wet blankets.
To his credit, he probably had mentioned this in one of the numerous “letters, blogs and email blasts” his office says it sent “throughout the year in an effort to better inform you.”
I do not doubt it. He always sends a raft of instructions and bright ideas. I should have assumed that with a new law in place, he would have gone into overdrive with these – he did – and I should have read each one with rapt attention.
I could keep beating myself up over procrastinating and ignoring them, but instead I’ve decided to take the kinder approach that another tax expert offered. He said people are either “task-driven” or “deadline-driven” – no judgment unless you don’t file at all. With apologies to Stephen Covey, I am apparently in the latter, urgency-seeking category, which means I’ll get ’er done, even if it takes all night.
So here we are. And I am left to invoke the oft-stated wisdom of my late husband, Bob: It is what it is.
What it is at this moment is a large pile in need of a large table and several large bars of carefully chosen chocolate.
Which leads me first to the most perplexing question of all: milk chocolate with cherry and red-wine notes? Or dark, with sea salt, orange or raspberries?
Maybe all of the above.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.