Sunday, 28 July 2013

The sound of procrastination and tax avoidance

Did you hear that sound today?  It was the sound of people (ie me and at least two other people I know) procrastinating.

The subject of procrastination was the completion of the BAS for the ATO which tracks how much GST has been collected by your business.  That amount is balanced against how much GST you've spent on business related purchases.  Then you balance that against your sales for the quarter and discover how much you need to pay the ATO or how much they need to pay you.  They've never paid me anything.

There are far too many acronyms in that paragraph...*

Despite having systems to make the process easier, when I receive the envelope with the notice, I dutifully mark the due date in the diary and then proceed to avoid it until the day before it is due to be submitted.  Then I spend a whole Sunday resenting the fact that I have to spend a whole Sunday on tax and then I nearly run out of time because cleaning the bathroom is suddenly a very appealing activity.

That's what procrastination sounds like - the bathrooms in the homes of small business owners being cleaned.  The oven suddenly looked like an appealing prospect for attention at about 11:30 today.  Or I could have alphabetised my spices.  Or cleared the spare room.  Actually with four BAS's to complete in a year I should be able to sort out my spare room...Even an emergency trip to the dentist would have been fun.

Usually I'm not one to procrastinate; I just do whatever needs to be done.  When it comes to anything to do with tax though I have a mental block.  Thank goodness I do have some kind of system or it would be hell.  I have noticed that the due date for completion of the BAS corresponds to desk cleaning and filing day.  Something should be done about that.

It's not that it's difficult.  It's just that I could be doing more interesting things.  Like vacuuming the ceiling or cleaning the skirting boards.

Bernard Black, proprietor of the bookstore in the comedy "Black Books" gives tax avoidance a new meaning in the very first episode.  He is supposed to be doing his tax, but is gripped by creative procrastination - he pairs an enormous pile of socks, covers himself in post-it notes, answers the door and invites the Jehovah's Witnesses in for discussion and a cuppa.  I know exactly how he feels!

What's your preferred procrastination activity?

*BAS - Business Activity Statement
ATO - Australian Tax Office
GST - Goods and Services Tax

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