April 1, 2019 • Musings
Pop Quiz: Taxes make me feel:
- Terrified. What if I do something wrong? What if I put something in the wrong place? What if I get audited? What if I go to jail or have to pay huge sums of money?
- Incompetent. I can’t believe something can reduce me to feeling like a fraction of my former self. I’m relatively intelligent. Why are taxes so hard? It’s like someone is trying to make me feel incompetent. (And it’s working.)
- Sick. I remember that one time when things didn’t go well, or when a friend failed to finish her taxes, or when an aunt was audited. Taxes make me feel sick to my stomach.
- Wonderful! I love looking back on 2018 and celebrating the successes I had, the clients I served, the places I traveled, the shows I attended, and the growth I created.
Chances are, you’ve felt some of these things. And terrified, incompetent, and sick are relatively easy to feel. It’s that wonderful part that takes effort. Even if you live in a “taxes are meh” kind of place, see if you can take time this month to celebrate your accomplishments last year… Through the lens of your tax return.
And while you’re doing that, here are a few other things you can do this month to support your creative career:
- Taxes. Finish your 2018 taxes. Pay your 2018 taxes. And estimate your taxes for 2019. Seriously. You need to finish this job sooner rather than later. In fact, stop reading and do it now. Tick tock.
- Systems. Using your system—whether it is Quickbooks, Expensify, Excel, or something else—to do your taxes is a great test of the system. Take some time to reflect this month on what works—and what doesn’t work—about your system. What can you do NOW to make your tax life easier next year? Can you track where you reported certain things? Were there questions you had about the business purpose of certain expenses? Did something drive you crazy about your accounting system? Do some reflecting, some adjusting, and some habit-modification this month to make your tax life better next year.
- Metrics. When you look back at last year (thanks to your tax return), what metrics are you paying attention to? Oh sure, dollars and cents matter. But what else matters to you? Is it shows you had? Festivals you attended? Pieces you published? Works you completed? Clients you served? Figure out how to track those metrics—the ones that matter to you—for 2019. (This is part of that “Taxes are wonderful” moment you’ll have this month. Don’t skip it.)
- Budget. And no, it’s not all about taxes. Your budget matters too. Look at your actual March income and expenses. How do they compare to your budget for the month? Do the same thing for the first quarter (January, February, and March). You are 25% of the way through the year… What do you need to do now to make sure you end the year where you want to be? Start doing those things now. Bonus points for connecting those things to the metrics that matter to you.
So it turns out I did talk about taxes this month. April Fools. (But you knew that was coming.) Don’t forget, though, taxes aren’t really about the taxes. They are about celebrating the successes you had last year and using the moment of reflection to plan and prepare for the rest of 2019. You’ve got this.