It’s tax time. Taxes scare me.

I still have flashbacks from my high school accounting class. My guidance counselor, Mrs. Killjoy, recommended I avoid a career that involved math of any kind. By graduation, I figured she would hand me a box of sharpened crayons and suggest I pursue a career of colouring outside the lines. She lacked vision. And humour. Joke’s on you, Mrs. Killjoy, I’ve done exactly that. Also, I am smart enough to hire someone to do my taxes.

My father does his own taxes. He takes immense pleasure in perfecting his calculations. He spends hours on it. Even does taxes for relatives. I didn’t get that math gene. Such a shame. Of all the genetic traits of my father, I would have preferred the ability to do math, understand stock markets, betting odds and how to wager at poker over the peculiarities I inherited instead (kidney stones are almost as bad as math. Almost).

Still, I’m not embarrassed that I don’t understand taxes. My ineptitude supports a local tax business, as do my locally-made earnings, and thus, I am a part of the full circle local economy. I trust the keen sensibility of a Kathy, a woman I only see once a year, but who does a magnificent job at being efficient and organized. She knows her stuff. I actually look forward to our annual date.

I go out of my way not to let Kathy down. I take tax filing quite seriously. I am talking colour-coded file folders and paper clips to separate each family member’s claims using their favourite colours. Seriously. I stopped short of using corresponding coloured sticky-notes to identify each person’s pile because I thought it might insult Kathy, who can clearly understand the paper clip strategy.

I cannot express to you the immense joy this organization brings me. It’s deeply satisfying. I have a home office, complete with a filing cabinet and all the other accoutrements required to fulfill my role as CEO of my clan. It’s the nucleus of the chaos around me. I am the file keeper, online banker, investment monitor, accounts payable and receivable, and coordinator of payment plans. I have mastered the shell game with bank accounts and credit cards by mastering sleight of hand. I am actually quite good at it (take that, Mrs. Killjoy).

You would think, thus, that the Carpenter would trust me to file his monthly statements and tax claims in a secure location. Yet, as his T-4, RRSP and union tax receipts trickled in over the last month, he practiced what can only be described as the squirrel filing system. Opened envelopes, statements and notes were stuffed in every nook and cranny of our home; wedged in the cupboard that holds the dinner plates, stuffed in the utility drawer, shoved between books on the shelf, stacked atop the fridge, and, even in amongst the reusable plastic bowls that long for their corresponding lids.

Then comes the day the last tax receipt arrives. He gathers them all up and hands them to me, stuffed haphazardly in a bulging envelope, complete with ringed coffee mug stains. He smiles at me like a first-grader handing in homework a day late. Adorable. Red paper clip. Reorganize.

Be kind to your tax accountant. Imagine sorting this year of chaos out. Happy tax season.

WriteOut of Her Mind