I was, of course, already aware of this. It has been niggling away in my hindbrain for the past week. The actual filing of the tax return is a piece of metaphorical cake. I do it online and it takes approximately an hour, give or take the odd break for a cup of tea and a Kit Kat, or to bang my head repeatedly on the desk.
However, in order to be in a position to do my tax return, I need to 'do' the accounts for the whole of the past year.
Sounds simple doesn't it?
But it is at this point that I descend into a hopeless, helpless spiral of despair......
- In order to 'do' the accounts I need to sort out my paperwork
- In order to sort out my paperwork I need to get to the big plastic box containing the aforementioned paperwork.
- In order to get to big plastic box I need to shift half a ton of 'stuff' which is blocking the desk cubby hole (wherein lies the big plastic box) in the upstairs bedroom.
- In order to shift the 'stuff' I need to clear enough space in one of the other bedrooms to put the displaced 'stuff in'.
So far, so frustrating. And this is just stage one. In order to get to the big plastic box I have to create a level of chaos upstairs akin to pandemonium and bedlam all rolled into one.
Having located, and extricated the big plastic box, and lugging it downstairs hopefully without mishap, I then come up against the next law of diminishing return.
- In order to sort out the paperwork, I need lots of room on the dining room table to lay out the paperwork in piles. One pile for April 2009, another for May 2009 and so on, all the way to March 2010.
- In order to lay the paperwork out in piles, I need to remove all the boards full of greenware body parts awaiting firing.
- In order to remove the boards, I need to load the kiln.
- In order to load the kiln I need to move the table back, pull out a large section of heat-resistant board, manoeuvre the kiln into position, locate the kiln props and shelves and prepare the kiln for loading.
Time for a cup of tea and a Kit Kat. I'm exhausted already just THINKING about it.
Having loaded the kiln and cleared the dining table of the greenware boards, it's time for the descent into the next level of hell.......
- In order to achieve 12 neat piles of paperwork, relating to each of the constituent 12 months of the year for the business, PLUS the ancillary piles related to my personal finances, I have to sort though the big plastic box.
- Despite the fact that each tax year's accounts are kept in separate files, my admittedly maverick approach to filing means that I have to search around in carrier bags, dog-eared envelopes and wads of elastic-banded receipts etc to locate the most recent tax year's paperwork.
Eventually, I will end up with, say, 20 piles of paperwork (business and personal) plus a separate, larger pile, which we will call, for the sake of simplicity, MISCELLANEOUS.
This pile is a whole level of hell in itself and though it is tempting to surreptitiously feed it into the shredder this would be A Bad Thing.
Each piece of paper in the MISCELLANEOUS pile must be scrutinised and a decision must be made upon its destination pile.
- In order to allocate all the pieces of paper in the MISCELLANEOUS pile, I must first finish the ironing. (NB - while this is not, strictly speaking, essential, I find that doing something even more distasteful than the job in hand, does help put things in perspective)
- In order to finish the ironing I must start the ironing.
- In order to start the ironing I have to find the ironing board.
- The ironing board is in the front spare bedroom behind the big pile of 'stuff' moved from the the front of the desk in the back spare bedroom in order to get to the big plastic box containing the paperwork.
Piles of paperwork awaiting attention can remain on the dining table for......ohhh, ages. Anything up to a month. Or more.
Especially if I have a lot of ironing to do.
As you can see these things are often not as simple as they first appear and I do not feel that HM Revenue & Customs quite understands this.