Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's all in my head

I have been very quiet during the last few days because I have been preparing our tax returns.

That is not quite true because I do not actually prepare our tax returns – in fact I could not prepare our tax returns – these are beyond the comprehension of mere mortals and are done by a large accounting firm with branches in almost every country in the world including Australia and Austria.

But each year I am required to provide masses of information about many things - most of which I know nothing about.

This is done online – and each year there is a new and improved form – which for some reason can never carry the information forward from the old and disreputable form – so I have to input stuff I have told them many times before about who we are and where we live and where our house is in Australia and where we live in Austria and how long we have been here and when we arrived.

And then there are things I can tell them like bank interest that we got and bank interest that we paid because I can look these things up. It is a tedious and time consuming process. Copious amounts of looking up and data collection is required.

But then things get difficult because Cate is an Australian resident who lives in Austria and works for a US company and gets paid in various places in various ways including in the USA and they ask a lot of questions that I cannot answer about things of which I know almost nothing.

As you well know – I do not get paid – I survive on what I can steal from the housekeeping – but I have to do a tax return because there are a couple of bits and pieces in my name. Not much mind you but enough that the government needs to know.

Unfortunately there only two definitive boxes ‘yes or no’. So if I am asked

‘Did you receive any dividend income from split equity holdings which you subdivided with pelican derivatives while boxing your non-taxable boodle bonds?’

I am supposed to click one of these two boxes – yes or no?

Well I left the financial world about 100 years ago and have no idea about any of this stuff any more or what happens with Cate’s stuff – and neither does she. She just gets money and spends it.

All I have is a bit of paper from a USA broker which looks a Pakahpu Ticket - and I have no idea what it means.

But fortunately – there is a box on the electronic form that says ‘I will come back to this’ and this allows me to move to the next incomprehensible question.

And – also fortunately – it is not like a computer game that does not allow you to move on until you finish one level.

So at the end of the process I have actually answered about 60% of the questions and half-answered about 20% but – regretfully – about 20% will be ones that I should go back to - but never will. This is good news for me but bad news for the major international accounting firm with branches everywhere.  

What I do then is scan in all the Pakahpu Tickets and attach them to the file and press SEND and about 30 seconds later some poor sod in Sydney gets this pile of half finished steaming trash on his PC.

But – he being an accountant – will look at my scanned in documents and will know exactly what it means in respect of pelican derivatives and boodle bonds and will wonder about the blithering idiot who completed the form who does not understand the simplicity of the whole process.
But accountants are like that. I did accounting for a diploma and actually got a credit for the subject but I found the whole process miserable beyond belief.

Although I did find some of it useful when I was subsequently a director of a bank and had to make decisions about whether or not to lend money to companies - based on their balance sheets. But it never really made sense to me that no matter how bad they were their assets always equaled their liabilities.  

For a later degree I did quantitative analysis. Let me tell you that if you ever have to move bales of cotton down the Mississippi river from Memphis to New Orleans and have a number of different barges with differing capacities and different speeds and need to do it in the smallest number of trips – I’m your man.

I have the formula locked in my brain. I have never been called upon to use it but it is there – waiting to be released.


  1. I am impressed. I know a Riverboat Captain on the Mississippi, he makes huge money. Paula Deen married a Riverboat Captain and she has great jewelry. Sadly however, the Port of Orleans is not doing well, shipping is down.

    We are lucky, we just email a bunch of papers a couple times and it is done. Although this is my first year totally not earning a dime, so it could get ugly.

  2. There are duck ponds, and then there are poodle ponds.
    I wonder if PPs beat DPs.

    Is there an OPD out there?

  3. fmcgmccllc: I think my time has passed - and I may not be the only one with the formula.

    Merisi: Nothing beats a duck pond.

  4. If your same linear algebra math skills work with rafts in the afterlife, then you could help move souls down the River Styx from Memphis to Cairo, but then that'll add an Egyptian income tax form that will have to be sent back through a seer or Ouija board fax machine equivalency to an accountant at Hogwarts and then the Brits get involved. Do you know hieroglyphics? I only know one, the Eye of Horus that is used for measurements and fractions. For all others ask the Brits for a look at the Rosetta Stone.

  5. 法人税申告・・・これは日本では年末の税金調整なのでしょうか?

  6. A pack of poo!
    I javent jeard tjat in afes!
    Id say more but it could cause a brain aneurysm.

    (my aitcj is broken so Im usinf j instead. And tjat letter tjat comes after f is also broken so Im usinf f instead.)

  7. esbboston: I know what a couple of others are but that does not get but too far. I can get a Rosetta Stone app for my iPad but I am pretty sure I cannot take that across the River Styx.

    michiko: Our tax year ends on 30 June but if we use an accountant we don't have to file until then end of the following march.

    SK Waller: She is a devoted English reader.I am glad I do not have to type in Japanese.

    freefalling: No need to get them fixed we can understand you perfectly.

  8. Original Message from freefalling:
    A pack of poo!
    I javent jeard tjat in afes!
    Id say more but it could cause a brain aneurysm.

    (my aitcj is broken so Im usinf j instead. And tjat letter tjat comes after f is also broken so Im usinf f instead.)

    Alternative for h : use an l followed by an n
    Alternative for g : use q - it looks very similar to a g especially when it is not followed by a u

    Using Alternates:
    A pack of poo!
    I lnavent lneard tlnat in aqes!
    Id say more but it could cause a brain aneurysm.

    (my aitcln is broken so Im usinq ln instead. And tlnat letter tlnat comes after f is also broken so Im usinq q instead.)

    I hope any potential aneurysms have healed, you would be missed dearly.

  9. Well, fLIck me I'd forgotten about my tax, thanks (I think) for reminding me although it will be nowhere near as confusing as yours sounds. Gave me a headache just reading about it.

  10. esbboston - oln - very qood idea!!!

    badqer - tee lnee - monster beats.