Death and Taxes

by  Christian A. Brown  |  March 12, 2017  |     No Comments

Death and taxes: two circumstances from which we never escape. The former event remains–I hope–quite a way off, the latter I contribute toward every year. However, that didn’t stop the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) from sending me a lovely notice last week that I was likely to be audited for my 2014 and 2015 returns. Because, as you know, us Indie authors are living the life of supreme luxury; squirrelling our quadrillions away in Cayman Island accounts. Once I got over the initial distress that this was going to happen, I gathered my wits and formulated a plan.

Thus far, I’ve been quite loose with my returns, counting only what I knew was an indisputable expense and not really digging into every cost and receipt. Well, when you’re likely to be audited, you have to do exactly what I’d avoided doing for so long. You have to go deep. You need to dig–if you don’t, the government will. I had to examine every ugly detail and frivolous mistake I’d made since becoming an author.

Usually, when you’re sent a notification like the one sent to me, it’s supposed to scare you into re-evaluating your return (aka: claiming less). In my case, and one of a couple of silver linings, is that it looks like the CRA owes me even more of a return. The second silver lining is that I am now 100% organized and aware of my business. As an independent contractor and artist you are coordinator, creator, accountant and boss–the buck always stops with you. Until this wake up call I’d played certain roles at certain times, though none with the balance or efficiency of a boss: focusing mostly on my art. I dealt with taxes when it was that time of year. I was never prepared, which explains my forgetting of costs and expenses.

Of course, as a fussy Virgo, fastidious organization was second nature once I set my mind in the right space. I’ve created a cloud-saved folder with numerous sub-folders for advertising, Paypal, and the many other categories of expenditures I’ve incurred since starting my business. Making top-quality books isn’t cheap, and while I’ve had some sense that I’d been hemorrhaging cash, I never realized how much, precisely, I had spent to bring my dream to life. Thank God for a partner who’s supported me and allowed me to pursue a career of creating fantasy and art. Thank God for Paypal and an era of digital invoices and statements, too. Preparing for an audit these days doesn’t require nearly as much paper or backtracking as it did even a decade ago.

I can take a breath now, relax, and get back to doing what I love. But I’ve also finished 2016’s taxes and started on 2017’s folder, too. If there’s any wisdom to glean from my mistakes it’s that it’s never too late to get organized, and it’s never too late to correct bad habits.

The decadent truth to Indie Publishing (I wish).

(Meanwhile, at Brown International Holdings…)

Well, the day grows late and it’s hard to hunt dodos at dusk; their greyish coats camouflage them in Serengeti nights. We flew in last night. Don’t you remember? Which servant are you? I don’t need your name, actually. Just another human-matryoshka–some fatter or thinner than the rest. All the same faces, really. Hush now, you’re ruining my calm and I do so like to hear myself speak. Cigarillo? Don’t make me snap twice. Thank you, Matryoshka–I think that will be your name now.

(Puff-puff)

Oh, Africa…Lovely place. Best classic ivory one can find for their toilet seats. The elephants aren’t too obliging. But they never are. Dodos? Extinct, you say? How to explain a mystery to a mite? (Sigh.) Being bourgeois, I’m assuming you’ve seen that dreadful moving picture with the dinosaurs and amusement park? Jurassic what? Whatever you say. Yes, like that movie, though with these prehistoric chickens you see out in the grass. Delicious eggs, the dodos. We’ll have some tomorrow. Well, not you, of course, though you can watch the lads and I break our morning fast. You really can’t take your lazy eye off those birds, can you? It’s charming that you’re still amazed by what’s as plain as your intelligence. It’s not sorcery. Bullshit walks and money talks. You know, throw enough billions at the wall and something will happen: possibly a resurrected species, sometimes just a nice wallpaper. I have several rooms in my castles that I’ve decorated that way. Very mâché-deco.

This cigarillo is ghastly. I don’t know why you offered me one. Take it. Time to dust off the blunderbuss and work on the second extinction of the dodos. Walt–Disney, of course–doesn’t like to wait. He’s not the most patient creature since we pulled him out of crysostasis and reattached his head to a cybernetic body. Hand me my smoking blazer. Careful now, it belonged to Conan Doyle. No, not the television persona, you muppet. Thank you. What is it, Matryoshka? Why still the staring? A question, or simply the stupefaction of the poor? Oh, that on the floor? I’ve no idea what it is. It just fell out of my jacket. A bill, you say? May you have it? Ha! Ha-ha…I haven’t laughed so hard since Victoria Beckham toppled ass-over-teakettle off her rhino at my Sweet Sixteen; it was a genuine party, I assure you, the fountain of youth isn’t as expensive as you think. Right, that thousand dollar bill. How darling. What a pet you are. I’ll keep you rather than cloning another next week. Pocket and pittance change, my pet. Go ahead and treasure it.

All my love,

–C

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