What’s fun about paying taxes?
I recently spent a surprisingly enjoyable couple of hours meeting with my accountant to file my taxes. Given the terrible press usually associated with taxpaying and my personal goal of examining everything through the lens of fun, this struck me as too good an experience to ignore!
What made our tax visit fun? Jokes. A congenial atmosphere between us. He was hassled (duh – it’s tax season!), he complained about it loudly and enthusiastically, we both laughed a lot, and that set the tone. We have done this tax filing process together for the past dozen years and have a pretty good idea of how to proceed. The sheer reality of cooperation and teamwork was enjoyable. Little quips here and there kept us in a good balance between work and play modes.
Later on, as I was trying over and over again to understand how the various figures fit together, I argued that this couldn’t be right, since business in general was down and therefore our taxes should also go down – a lot. I ended up asking what he assures me is the every-day question in the tax preparation business: “how can I owe this much?”
So it wasn’t fun because I am wealthy or didn’t owe anything, or enjoy watching my bank balance drop before my eyes. It was fun because of a working relationship, our senses of humor, and our unspoken agreement about being able to argue about facts and ideas without being angry at each other. It was fun because we like each other. We would never hang out socially, it’s a totally professional relationship, but we like each other and cooperate easily.
On a personal level, it can also be fun to get more of a hold on where our money has gone. Even if it’s only for a few days a year, we get to notice the big picture of what we are taking in and what we are spending. On a more meta level, it could be fun to consider how our resources are going to be used when they leave our hands, but it’s hard for most of us to get our minds around the numbers that are often involved in discussions of governmental spending. As individuals, we feel relatively powerless to affect choices about the national budget. We each carry a world of strong emotions stemming from our own relationships to money. Whether we have struggled hard all our lives to make ends meet or have grown up thinking that we deserve more than other people, simply because we have always had more than others around us, we are all trying to punch our way through our early conditioning to a clearer view of reality about this resource called money.
What’s fun about paying taxes? Finding people you can joke about money and taxes with, having some laughs, and keeping your brains in gear at the same time. Just holding out the possibility that even paying taxes can be fun can make a difference. We have to pay them either way, so we may as well enjoy the scenery.
Now come on and comment. Write some “smart remarks” and give us all a smile!