Back in the misty days of October last year, when I was negotiating the minefield of setting up a business for the first time; I wrote in my brand new business diary (all those blank pages!), under 31 August 2016, FILE TAX RETURN. I knew that this would have to be done, but it was nearly a year away, and anything might happen in the meantime. I could emigrate, aliens might invade, I could live in an enclosed community (I had reached that ‘what am I doing’ stage at that point).
But here we are, post 31 August 2016, and on some level the milestone must have registered. My ingrained fear of doing something wrong in .Gov terms, leading to a knock on the door from a tax official with a briefcase (think Hugo Weaving in The Matrix), made me keep careful records of every piece of expenditure and income on spreadsheets. Receipts had their own bulldog clip; I bought a folding file as a business expense to keep track of business expenses; and worried over the fact that increased coffee consumption could not really be classed as subsistence.
My diary tells this story – the carefully drawn columns dividing my week into ‘existing projects’, ‘new projects’ and ‘everything else’ has transformed into scribbles across the page – skype (wifi?), update stakeholder columns, 1.30pm in Costa, Honda insurance, cat food? But I still keep notes there of everything I spend, and when, and why. Plus what I have earned, and how long it took me.
And all these careful records are worth it. I am very fortunate in having a tax return to actually file. When I signed I felt a real sense of achievement – my business had grown up; it was official, it had earned me money, and my talent was recognised. I signed it with a dramatic flourish and pressed send.
And I got a .Gov message saying ‘Your tax return has been signed and filed!’ That exclamation mark, so unusual in official communications, meant a lot. Thank you, whoever it was who decided that that particular electronic automated response should use a punctuation that acknowledged achievement.
For me, it simply said ‘You did it!’