Saturday, April 09, 2005

Crow, Cow Pies and Taxes

I am sitting here seething with anger. I just yelled at my kids. I think I’ll go and club a few seals and then find a 120 pound female cop and laugh at her mascara. Then, after I regain consciousness, I'll go somewhere private and just scream. I am fit to be tied. I am so tense that every cell in my body feels like it’s going to explode. Please, somebody shoot me. Put me out of my misery. God, I hate doing my income tax.

For the past few years my wife and I have been paying a local accountant to do our taxes for us. This year, however, we expect to make less than in previous years. So, I figured that I would save us the $100 and do our taxes myself. Big mistake.

First I had to decide how I would do them – on paper or by using some type of software. Well, the whole idea was for us to save money. And software packages aren't free. So, I figured I’d give the paper return a shot.

Off to the post office I go. I pick up two form booklets and the guide, and march home. On the way, I pass the local storefront tax business. I look in at all the people waiting to pay to have their taxes done. I smile smugly to myself. 'Suckers', I whisper under my breath. I think of the nice dinner out that my wife and I will have with the money we save. I'm thinking maybe duck or pheasant. I should be thinking crow.

So, I get home and go straight to work. Throughout my career I have done many complex calculations, analysized data, reviewed and summarized legislation and solved many perplexing problems. Surely, a simple tax return should be a piece of cake. Turns out it is more like a piece of pie - a cow pie.

Now, lets just look at the concept of taxes for a minute. They aren’t something that we do voluntarily to access a government benefit. This isn’t like applying for a drivers license or passport. Canadians are not forced to do those things. So it is not totally unreasonable for the applicants to pay some nominal expense.

Taxes, however, are a totally different story. They are a legislated requirement for anyone who makes any money here in Canada. Any Canadian with income has to file an income tax return or suffer dire consequences. So, almost all adult Canadians are affected. And yet the forms and processes are so infuriatingly complex and utterly incomprehensible that many Canadians have to spend their own hard earned dollars to hire a professional to do their taxes for them.

Am I the only person who thinks that this is more than just a little twisted? First, the government forces its citizens to do something under penalty of fine or imprisonment if they refuse. Then, it makes the process so difficult that they have to spend their own money just to comply. In other words, the government forces people to pay just to stay out of jail. Seems to me that if the government is forcing us to do something it should at least pick up the tab.

One solution to this problem would be for the government to provide a tax deduction, dollar for dollar, to repay Canadians who have to spend their own money hiring someone to do their personal tax return. Another solution would be for government to provide a free user friendly net tool for Canadians to use to calculate and file their taxes online.

An entire nation-wide private tax industry has sprung-up like mushrooms on the cow pies excreted from Ottawa's bloated tax system. Tax specialists sit at their desks in storefront offices and shopping malls and they wait. They know we can’t live without them. They know that sooner or later we will have to dig deep, swallow our pride and fork out. We are figuratively held captive. And only by paying these indispensable tax emissaries can we save ourselves from being literally held captive - by our country’s tax courts and jails. And they will continue to take our money until our government gives us a tax system that we can navigate through ourselves. Personally, I don't think that's too much to ask.

Anyway, here I am, tying on my bib. The crow is being served. I’m finished with dealing with the cow pie tax return. After two hours of slogging through these outrageously nonsensical tax forms I have given up. I might be able to get it done eventually, but only at the cost of a lot of time and my sanity. And we all know how much psycho therapists cost. It's just not worth it.

My tax situation isn’t that complex. We contribute a bit to an RRSP. We have to pay back an RRSP home ownership loan. We make a few dollars in interest. There’s a few deductions transferable from one to the other. These are financial realities shared by millions of Canadians. So why can’t the government make it possible for us to do our taxes ourselves? My grandfather was a simple labourer. He didn’t have to hire someone to do his taxes. I’m a university trained professional and I do. This is progress? Not for me it isn’t. More like bureaucracy gone mad.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I have to call the accountant and set up an appointment for him to do our taxes. Another tax season. Another hundred dollars.


Blogger Nema Pridem said...

I feel your pain. Paying to have my taxes prepared is the best service I've ever paid for. After having my legs waxed, of course.

10:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home