Long ago, in the dark ages of the Internet, when half the links led to sites with the ‘digging man’ in yellow and an “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” banner, I found a site that assisted the harried Father and Husband (as it was assumed by the host) to do his taxes. The video was presented by a stately-looking gent, grey hair (white at the temples), wire-framed glasses, a white dress shirt and, if I remember correctly (this was almost 20 years ago), a tan cardigan. He could have been a lawyer, or the family doctor (nothing so pretentious as a specialist, mind you.) He stood behind a wide wooden desk, a leather wingback chair and bookcases in the background.
In a calm voice, he began with now-familiar advice: “Get your papers in order. Take your time. Arrange your forms to the left, then your income statements and bank returns to the right.” Ah, yes, the old ‘lay it out neatly’ approach.
Then he stood up, straightened his glasses and pronounced this little gem: “When you’ve finished, and your forms are sorted, pour your first whisky.”
A fine tax tip indeed. And that was just the first whisky — there were more to be had — after the Schedule A was completed, for example. Then after Schedule D, when all of those stock transactions (he assumed) were entered. For this guide, the drinks were breadcrumbs in the Forest of Tax Drudgery, little rewards to draw the striving taxpayer along the way and keep him calm.
Alas, I’ll be having one of these (pictured just above, gentle reader). I wish my life was so uncompicated I could afford a whisky on tax day morning. But I fear my sage adviser was from an earlier age, before the hated Alternative Minimum Tax reached quite so many of us, when the tax rules were not quite as convoluted. I cannot imagine trying to do my taxes under the influence of not one, but several whiskies. I’ve been audited several times (once in person, a harrowing experience) and I cannot imagine looking at the auditor and explaining, “I don’t quite remember making that entry, actually. It must have been after the third scotch!” I rather doubt such a line would elicit even a shred of sympathy.
By the way, tax auditors in the U.S. can have empathy for us. Mine did. She was very kind and cut me a break on my Ebay sales. So, be nice to your auditor! That’s my tax tip.
Later, when my forms are all printed out shipshape and Bristol fashion, I’ll allow myself one of these (the best in the house, currently):