By Stacie Clifford Kitts
My mom had a philosophy about housekeeping. I think this stemmed from her preference to spend her free time on other activities like mastering a still life in watercolor, or watching a classic old movie. In any case, her philosophy usually resulted in our house being in one of two stages. She lightheartedly referred to these as “lived-in clean”, or “company clean”. I can still recall the first time I noticed mom running around the house painting over dirty little finger prints, or using Old English scratch remover (love that stuff by the way) on the furniture. This was when she explained that “company clean” meant paying attention to the details while “lived-in clean”, maybe not so much.
We sometimes see Taxpayers that have this same philosophy. They never quite seem to pay attention to the detail, that is, until they have company knocking at the door. Sometimes that company is a taxing agency. But, more often than not, everyday life events have resulted in the need for “company clean” records. Those include:
1) Accurate tax planning
2) Retirement planning
3) Applying for a home or business loan
4) Divorce or marriage considerations
5) Estate and succession planning
Taxpayers are often shocked at how costly it is to have someone “clean-up” after the fact. But consider the cost of hiring someone to clean or repair your house after a long period of neglect. Imagine the damage that can occur to your property when not taken care of properly. If you cannot, might I suggest an episode of Horders as an arguably extreme example of the damage caused by a lack of proper housekeeping.
“Company clean” records do not need to steal from your free time thought. Here are a few tips.
1) Do not wait until the end of the year to accumulate your records or do your accounting. You should be accumulating this information and doing an accounting (if necessary) at lease monthly.
2) Know what records you should be keeping. Ask your accountant or check out the IRS Website
3) Hire a qualified bookkeeper. This is someone who has a basic knowledge of accounting rules, not just someone who knows how to use Quickbooks.
4) Have your CPA look at your accounting records before the end of the year to make accounting suggestions and to help with tax forecasting.
5) Budget for the costs of hiring qualified tax and accounting professionals. Usually, the quality of your tax and accounting information are a reflection of what you pay for them.
Yes, that’s me, the lady eating by herself. No, I’m not waiting for friends or being stood up on a date. I chose to be here, all by myself… And it’s glorious.
Normally, and just like other service professionals, I spend long days, nights and weekends taking care of, or preventing, other peoples problems. “We worry for you” isn’t just a slogan, it’s a fact of life.
Really, and I’m being totally serious here, the questions, What can I get you? How was that? Can I get you something else?, well..they are just plain magical. So magical in fact, sometimes they amaze me.
And it’s not only that. The whole darn process is satisfying.
First, there are so many wonderful venue choices-and the choice is all mine! Better yet, if I want to go to the same place over and over- who cares? I never have that irritating conversation with myself that starts, where do you want to go? I don’t know, where do you want to go. I don’t care, what do you want to do? Argh- shoot me.
Next, I arrive and someone greets me. “Can I help you?” Why yes, yes you can.
The smiling, friendly and eager hostess leads me to my own temporary little bubble of personal space, where she leaves me alone with a list of tasty and fun treats. Of course, this magical piece of fine literature, from which I can choose anything I want, is the menu. No really, menu writing is a skill and a work of art if done correctly.
And, if all of this isn’t enough, someone is willing, nay, begging, to cook, clean and serve ME while I indulge in something I enjoy – completely stress free – like reading, catching up on the news, or even writing a blog post. I do imagine that heaven must be something like this.
I admit, sometimes people are a bit puzzled by my enjoyment of solitary “public” dinning. And yes, in my younger days, there was often that “one guy” who just didnt think it was right for me to be alone and so wouldn’t go away.
But, as I’ve gotten older, that problem has faded sweetly and comfortably (for the most part) into the past, allowing for much cherished ME time.
When you think about it, here is a process that focuses totally on your wants and needs, no pressure to perform or entertain, and allows you the ability to do something you enjoy? I mean really, need I say more?
Oh, and what does this have to do with a tax blog? Absolutely nothing.