The Terrible Thing About April

Actually, I quite like April for several reasons. It’s usually spring in one form or another and blossoms and bright colors abound, trees are pushing out tender green leaves, and everything is fresh and new after the winter. Even here in Vancouver, where yes, the grass truly is always green. However, the terrible thing about April is “taxes.”

For Canada, the deadline is April 30. I get to try to get the taxes done before my birthday might come along. Sometimes I’m late and sometimes I’ve very late. Because I’m claiming various professional activities like writing and copy editing, I have to keep all my receipts. I was claiming as a writer long before I started doing copy editing. In Canada, we have this rule that if you’re an artist (pick any art you want) and you don’t realize a profit in your lifetime, but you are trying to sell your work in one way or another, you can claim your expenses.

For writing, this can mean anything to do with art and submitting work to publishers/magazines: software, books, movies, postage, paper, office supplies, etc. I just have to prove, should I ever get audited, that I was trying to make a profit. I do this by keeping rejection and acceptance slips, or the emails. Every once in a while, I weed through those papers and toss out a few, but I keep seven years worth, just in case.

But taxes are still a terrible thing and on the news today they said that Canadians on average are giving away 40% of their income to taxes. So you have to work half your time just to pay the government. And of course, we do our yearly taxes, which includes federal and provincial taxes but on top of that we pay daily GST and PST on top of those taxes. And should you own a house or other property, you have those taxes. It seems as if we cannot turn around without being taxed. And just think, federal tax is not a hundred years old yet. It was put into place by them Prime Minister Borden as a temporary war measures act.

See how permanent temporary measures can be. And even on top of income tax, came provincial sales taxes and then the GST, yet another tax on our pockets. I bet good ole Brian Mulroney told that that tax was temporary too. And imagine this, for centuries countries existed without taxes. Okay, sure they had tithes, and peasants feeding nobles who galloped around in their finery and shot deer for fun. But at least you could have a peasant uprising then. Now, we’re cowed and bleat futility as we pay those taxes.

And then the provincial and federal governments want to combine all those taxes and tax on things so far not taxed. And somehow they say this will make jobs? I’m not sure how except maybe in the tax department.

So…taxes. It takes me three nights to do it, mostly from procrastination. I do my taxes online now, even if I am claiming more than the standard form. Online is faster when it comes to calculations but Quicktax doesn’t always give explanations for those claiming professional and business activities. So I have to remember that I can claim two conventions a year because I won’t find the information there. For someone just starting out to claim artist expenses and using the online system, it might be better to buy their business packet. But I still use the standard and usually manage well. Unless Revenue Canada thinks I’ve miscalculated, which can only really happen if I enter something in the wrong section. And since capital gains and other areas aren’t explained really clearly, it’s not that hard to do.

Still, even with screwing up this year and not putting money into an RRSP, I will still get money back. It’s better to put the money into RRSPs though because it does cut down on money being sucked into the government. Not that you won’t end up paying that tax when you eventually take them out so it’s not really a big savings.

I hate doing taxes like most of us. I hate seeing how much money is sucked away and I can understand why some people go to live on the street or squat because you can work less and still survive. Such a lot of the big wheel moving round and round. I think we have complicated our world too much, but then again would we all want to work in fields growing our food and building our homes from wood? I think we’ve gone too far the other way though and some simplification and less taxation would help. It’s one thing to have services and resources. It’s another thing to be snowed under the avalanche of costs before even being able to hold a roof over your head.

April comes with trepidation and some relief when the taxes are done. For me, that refund won’t be spent until I know it’s accurate, and then it will probably pay down those bills.

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