I have a manila folder that, a year ago I scawled “BOOK REC.S” across, crumpled in my lap. I realize that in my slump of despair I’m resting my bosom on my accountant’s desk, and it is overflowing it’s pretty push-up bra into the v neck of my blouse. Bless his studied eye contact. I move the envelope to my chest and hug it, and lay my head down instead.
“Ok…so what do we have?” he asks with a good cheer that he cannot possibly have for me on April 8th, the first time I’ve shown up.
I poured out the folder. Six Goodwill receipts, unfortunately all stuck together with months old spilled peach ice tea. Four receipts for book purchases. Half a receipt for my work shed. One..ONE tax form from one of the many places I write. Other financial bits and bobs.
“Mistakes were made,” I said. “He had a super secret hiding place so the kids wouldn’t mess them up or the dog eat them, but he…is far too creative to use a desk or file cabinet or even an envelope like this one. So…those papers are all gone. He doesn’t remember where he put them. Please help me.” I then, in my irritation, do a an impression of my husband in which he sounds like Patrick from Spongebob, lamenting 1099s.
The amount a self-employed person has to pay in taxes is obscene, since most self employed people are poorish. I made a living wage this year on my writing, ignoring my mentor’s constant refrain, “put 35% aside. Put 35% aside.” Because what monster governments would want to take thirty five percent of my two skooches above poverty level writing money from me?
Lots. Especially Oregon. Oregon is…just beautiful. The best roads in the nations (if I ever saw a pothole I’d photograph it for a scrap book of Oregon adventures), charter schools, generous benefit programs for all in need. Even the foodstamps come disguised as a discreet little debit card. And now that I’ve grown up I see how we manage it all.
“Also there is New Zealand,” I say. “Could we just forget about New Zealand?”
“What..what about them?” he asks.
“I’ve gotten a lot of income from there this year but they aren’t America so they can’t possibly be expected to participate in this.”
Mike, who would be the Oscar winning result of the finest Hollywood casting and make-up departments if the assignment was, “Small town accountant,” tries to tell if I’m joking.
“no one needs to knoooowwwww” I hiss at him.
Apparently everyone cheats on their own taxes but accountants can’t help clients do so. “Just write down all your best guesses of how much you earned and from where. We’ll give them a chunk of money and file for an extension.”
I slam my boobs back on his desk. Because I didn’t plan right, because my comprehension of how money works ended with the $22 “Christmas presents savings account” I had in my mother’s bedside drawer when I was nine, the big ugly chunks of money will come out of my savings. All because I couldn’t live without a poorly sized flash-sale skirt…or 13, from Zulilly. And because Amazon has “buy with one click.” And because Safeway bags your groceries FOR you and the cheaper warehouse grocery involves more physical labor than I was willing to put into the purchase of yogurt.
Let this be a lesson to me.