Ace is Wild

The gods are with me … I’ve picked the Ace. And according to the rules of the Deck of Small Change I can do whatever I want with an Ace including give myself a week off from assignments.

Which is exactly what I’m going to do because the last thing I needed this week was a traumatic task from Counting Zeros because this week, irrespective of whatever assignments I might’ve given myself, it’s time to face my annual UK tax return.

Filing taxes is like going to the dentist or buying a white appliance or sorting out a pension, only a lot worse. A voice inside of me whimpers, “What? I really have to do these things???” Each of these responsibilities is so offensively Adult.
I don’t want to.

If you read my Psychology of Money confessions over Panic Station last May you’ll know that I missed the tax deadline of January 31st 2011 by more than half a year.

And so for all of you out there who also need to file UK taxes but who are about to miss the deadline, here’s what happened to me:

Despite my failure to demonstrate to the authorities that I am an adult capable of completing my paperwork on time, I avoided the usual penalties for a late return (fines and extra charges). I did that by calling the tax office to explain that I am a financial fuckwit who needs help. What I actually said was, “Please help me. I have completely screwed up and left my taxes to the last minute and I don’t know what to do.” If you are dealing with petty authorities the trick is to give them ALL THE POWER AND THEN BEG. This works. Or at least it did this once. The tired sounding automaton on the other end of the phone sighed, softened her voice and told me that all I had to do was over-estimate how much money I owed, send that money in straight-away and then when I filed my taxes if I had over-paid I’d get a refund. And so that what’s I did. And even though it took me more than 6 months to get around the paperwork, because I had sent the check, she was right. I didn’t get into any trouble.

I am NOT suggesting to anyone to take this course instead of just facing up to things now … but in the event that you’re as bad as me, I thought you might sleep better at night if I shared my personal experience. As for me, the entire point of Counting Zeros is that I stop behaving like this and so I’m off to face my taxes.

5 thoughts on “Ace is Wild

  1. We have to do this every October. I’d rather stick needles in my eyes. I keep all our receipts in a shoe box and spend every September trying to sort out the nightmare that is our tax return. This year we moved house in August and misplaced the shoe box……let’s just say,that’ll never happen again!

    1. Feargal, I don’t know if you’ll remember coming over to my house back in like 1993 and me asking you for advice on how to reorganise my room? You were horrified that related items seem to have no specific home (e.g. bits and pieces of jewellery found in multiple far-fetched spots, no special place for pens and pencils etc etc) … I can’t BELIEVE it never occurred to me just to throw all my receipts in a shoebox!!!!!

  2. I don’t think this feeling when approaching finances, which I share, is actually to do with having to be an “adult”. Or at least not the literal meaning of adult which I guess is a physically mature human.

    I think it’s because we are animals and the feelings we get of feeling trapped is that when we have to fill in weird forms that relate to abstract concepts that has nothing to do with being a primate. People in past societies didn’t have to file tax returns. They had very different freedoms, options and obstacles. People who live in the few, very few, societies now that live outside of the whims of capitalism, don’t have to fill in tax returns. They have to hunt or gather and do other actions that relate more directly to their instincts. Not that I am intending to present them as either a perfect ideal (they have very different and often dangerous circumstances) or as being outside of the global finacial system (which is generally interacting with or even actively attacking the lives of tribal peoples.)

    But all that aside the fear and panic attacks that finacial forms bring out in us is, I think, a feeling that this activity has no relation to instinctual, animal, reality. And the nagging emotional sense that none of this massive crushing system is actually real, colliding with the cold intersection knowledge that it is, and if played wrong can result in terrible outcomes for us. Real outcomes that will hurt out instinctual needs for Ifood, warmth, security, etc..,

    1. I love that … esp the part when you write “the nagging emotional sense that none of this massive crushing system is actually real, colliding with the cold intersection knowledge that it is, and if played wrong can result in terrible outcomes for us”

      OK, so I’m not just irresponsible in this regard because I may be emotionally immature — I am responding to the instinctive threat of a trap!!!

      Then again, I have a friend who believes that her most natural habitat is sitting quietly at a desk with a piece of paper and a pencil drawing logic maps of anything worrisome or troublesome — it’s possible that she might regard official forms as a soothing construct of orderliness … but I doubt it. Never met anyone who got a kick out of taxes or indeed any sort of intense form-filling against which you might get busted

      1. I meant to say “cold and certain” but I quite like what auto correct did there.

        There are lots of people who can hack the forms. They are better adapted for the current way that we structure our society! Part of me envies them. Part of me really doesn’t.

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