Day 170. Silent ‘Partners’??

Damn! It’s that time again. Here in Ontario we have a Harmonized Sales Tax (or consumption tax) of 13%. It’s applied to a host of products and services, from pick pocketsalcohol to gasoline, from homes costing over a certain amount of money to adult clothing and more.

It’s not only consumers who are affected. I have to charge my clients HST, as well. And then I have to declare it quarterly. And pay it, obviously, as well. Which is why I refer to Revenue Canada as my silent partner. Not that they do anything for me. On the contrary, I work my butt off and they sit there, hands outstretched, waiting.

Wish I could get a gig like that.

No skills necessary. They don’t need to know a thing about my business. For that matter, they barely know how to do their own jobs. If you’ve ever tried to get information out of the IRS or CRA, or whatever your equivalent is, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Their jobs are a lot more stable than ours. And let’s not even talk about the quality of their benefits.

They make tons of mistakes, all of which go unpunished. And God help you if you’re ever in a position of trying to prove

them wrong. Hope you’ve got patience, because by the time you collect, if you ever do, you could be doing so from your grave. Having died of old age.

And while I always run the risk I could end up with a client who stiffs me, I’d never get away with not paying my taxes. Neither would you. You know where we’d end up. Paying a fine. Being watched like a hawk ’til the end of time. And maybe doing time, if there’s a lot of money involved.

Speaking of which.

The taxman cometh. The big kahuna. The income tax kahuna. These guys are really greedy. There’s not much left, once they take their ‘cut’. And just like their pals over in HST, they’re not much help either. They just sit there, in their matching cubicles, idling the time away until the windfall arrives. Splat. On their laps. Special delivery. Cash, cash, glorious cash! Piles of it. All ours. Bonanza!! Yippee!!

While we’re shaking our heads, wiping tears from our eyes. Moaning. Mourning all the money we’ve just forked over. Groaning. Feeling bereft. Asking ourselves how we could have worked so hard, and ended up with so little.

Not those tax collectors, though. You just know their favourite month of the year is April. Sadistic so-and-so’s.

In Canada we have until the end of April to file our taxes. It’s earlier in the U.S., I know. When folks file in the rest of the world, I haven’t a clue. But now’s the time we all start getting our paperwork in order.

Digging through envelopes, drawers, files and piles of paper. Looking for all the receipts we’ve been collecting all year. All our ‘deductions’ for 2012. That’s always fun, isn’t it. Every year I say I’m going to be more organized next time. Ask me if I ever am. Ha! The answer would be “no”.

You’re grinning sheepishly now, aren’t you? Because I’ll bet you’re no better than I am. Although I suppose I should give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you are ‘one of those’. Everything nice and neat and tidy, in one place. In a filing cabinet, where it should be. Where you can easily put your hands on it. Everything accounted for.

God, I wish you’d come and whip me into shape.

This is also the time of year when we decide whether or not we’re going to contribute to our RRSPs, 401Ks and the like. In an attempt to save some money for our retirement; and save some money on taxes now. Busy season for Investment Advisers, Financial Planners, bankers and accountants.

A time of reckoning and recrimination for the rest of us.

Where the hell is the receipt for my new printer? What do you mean, I can’t declare dry cleaning expenses? Am I supposed to go to client meetings wearing dirty clothes? Why did I spend all that money? Why didn’t I save more? Why didn’t I put money away all year for my taxes? Why didn’t I try harder to get new business? Did I really need a new car last year?

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?


24 thoughts on “Day 170. Silent ‘Partners’??

  1. Even with all the political craziness down here, the taxes are definitely one thing I don’t miss about Canada. But I know it’s tax time down here: all sorts of forms are arriving in the mailbox. Although I hated it then, I’m glad I spent New Year’s Eve getting better organized for my IRS pals. So glad I don’t have to file both US and Canadian taxes any longer!

  2. I have to say that I love the Orwellian nature of the name “Harmonized Sales Tax.” It sounds so soothing! (As opposed, I’m guessing, to the old Cacophony Sales Tax.) Any idea where the name comes from?

    • They combined two taxes. Not very romantic at all, is it? :). Sorry to destroy that lovely image you had of the beautiful, sun-filled room with blue sky and fluffy clouds painted on the ceiling, Filled with the soothing sounds of harps, and flutes and violins playing beautifully, every time a Canadian buys something.

      So much less crass than the sound of a cash register ka-chinging, don’t you think? 🙂

  3. I, too, love the name they chose for your taxes up there. Definitely Orwellian with a little Bradbury thrown in. We’re pretty unimaginative in the states with our tax names. Somehow they all sound like “You’re Screwed, Pay Us Now” taxes.

    • This one is a hugely unpopular goods and services tax. It is a discretiinary tax and a lot of provinces have refused to inplement it. So to those of us who live here, the name is a total joke, because there is nothing harmonious about it.

      There were, and continue to be, real battles over it. And of course it is just one of the taxes we pay. The middle class doesn’t do so well here either. Our big difference is, our wealthy and uber wealthy pay more tax than yours do.

      And like the extremely wealthy do the world over, they manage to find all kinds of loopholes and off-shore opportunities to hide money legally.

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