Monday, May 30, 2011


I tried to fill in my tax return this evening. To make sure I didn't get confused, last year I took a photograph of my completed tax return, so I could refer to it when I filled in this year's version.

Of course, then I lost the photograph.

This meant I spent an hour scrabbling around between three different computers and four different hard discs, trying to remember what I would have called the photograph. Amusingly, although my old PC knew what the photograph was called, it could only tell me it was on a drive that wasn't plugged into the PC any more, which was fantastically useful.

There is a handy booklet that comes in the post with your tax return form, and if I'd spent more time studying this and less panicking, I wouldn't have scrawled a number that's three times as big as it should be into a space on the form. Goddammit it.

I only really understood this when I found the photograph of the old form, and realised one of the numbers on it made no sense to me whatsoever. Unless I read the handy booklet and paid attention to the formula in there. What a fool I am.

As well as having to submit a form with a liberal amount of white-out painted over my mistakes, I've also seen that the return from my employer has a minor mistake. In that somebody's typed 2011 when they should have typed 2010. Which is all well and good, but as the son of an accountant I'm kind of superstitious about these things. If you write one year then it's not usually acceptable to maintain that you meant another year, even if that seems like the common sense approach. Tax departments are built on cold and merciless logic, not on some vague bloke going "yeah, well, it should say 2010, I just put in 2011 because I wasn't concentrating", so I need to get that fixed before it produces some sort of complicated bureaucratic nightmare.

Or I could cover that in white-out as well.

Assuming white-out, or sno-pake, or whatever other name there is for correction fluid, still exists. It seems quite possible that in this age of email and word-processors, white-out has gone the way of the dinosaur. (If dinosaurs are all piled up in the back of a warehouse of unwanted office supplies.) In which case I'll be submitting my tax form with great big crossings-out all over it. Why didn't I do it in pencil first?


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