Tax return

With Christmas out of the way, tax return avoidance season begins. Goodness knows every year I vow I am going to be more organised with receipts, etc, than I was in the previous one, but it never happens. I’m sure I am not alone in my despair in this.

So last Friday I was going through all the usual methods of procrastination: making the kitchen look immaculate, having a clear out of some old tumblers to take over to a neighbour who is a caterer… taking over the old tumblers to the neighbour who is a caterer. She was just about finished with her accounts. Show off.

Back in my house it almost lunchtime – time to try out a concoction from my Nigel Slater quick cook book that I received for Christmas, then check a few emails and do some other work and – darn it – time for the school run. Procrastination complete.

This week started out in a similar vein, but it was on Tuesday that I knew I was on the verge of needing help. Popmaster had just finished on Radio 2 and I was just about to get down to some figures when the doorbell rang. I answered it to find two older women on the doorstep, one of whom immediately asked if I was familiar with the Lord’s Prayer.

A-ha – Jehovah’s Witnesses. My usual response is to tell them I am in the middle of watching Monty Python’s Life of Brian and shut the door. But maybe just this once I could invite them in for a cup of tea. You know, put off doing the tax for a little longer.

I was that close to ushering them in when I gave myself a mental slap. What are you thinking???

Moments later I’d slammed the door and the Jehovah’s were on the right side of it – i.e. the outside.

Coming so close to doing something so insane was the wake-up call I needed. I went into the office, dug out the recipts, trawled through the bank statements and set to work.

And then, believe it or not, later in the day there was something of a magical moment. No, not the chance of a rebate – better than that. The sun suddenly shone in through the window and, as I continued looking through old statements for corresponding figures, I came across a fair few entries that reminded me of happy moments from that tax year. Trips to local gardens, Legoland, even cashpoints used in random places where we ended up by some happy accident on an afternoon excursion in the car.

January can be a deflating enough month even if you are lucky enough not to have a tax return to do, but a combination of that sun and those enduring memories brought on by my bank account records really buoyed my spirits and encouraged me to press on with the job in hand. I didn’t even stop for a Nigel Slater lunch.

Of course, there’s still a bit of a way to go with the accounts, but I’ll get there, as I always do. And then another year of magical memories with the children – and the wife – awaits. Mind you, looking at the early estimates on my spreadsheets, how we’ll going to pay for it this time round is another matter!

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