Thursday, 20 October 2011
I have arithmophobia and tax confusion syndrome
When a letter arrives from the Australian Taxation office (ATO), my heart gets hectic, my palms moisten and any logic or rational thought escapes me. The same symptoms afflict me when I have to see my accountant.
She's a nice woman who does her best to calm me down when I enter her home office, a spacious room that is sparsely furnished with a desk, two chairs and a bookcase filled with accounting tomes. As I sit down, the chair legs scrape on the cold, tiled floor. This teeth-grinding screech echoes the chaos in my head.
My accountant is like her office - neat and efficient. She dresses in a white blouse, black trousers and comfortable shoes. It's unnerving, like being sent to the school principal.
She never admonishes, but I reckon she secretly worries that one day I'll lose it. She gently walks me through the annual tax return process, but what should take an hour usually takes three because: a. I've forgotten to bring vital information or b. I've made a mistake with my calculations.
I pay my taxes and keep my head down but the ATO likes to play with my head by sending threats of fines for late payments and by readjusting my PAYG payments so I don't know if I'm coming or going.
Maybe I'm the only person in the entire universe who suffers from tax confusion syndrome. The last time I phoned the ATO I sobbed down the line as I explained how hard it was for me to open their letters and decipher the hieroglyphics within. They left me alone for a few years after that.
But now they're onto me again. You'd think I was James Packer or Gina Reinhart. But I'm eensy-teensy fry, sizzling in the pan as the ATO attempts to cook me to a crisp.
They've found a reason to fine me again so it's back to the accountant's and those cold cold tiles.