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Every year I learn something new while doing our accounts.

There I have been walking straight ahead, putting one foot before the other, like most human beings who learn to walk at a very young age, when someone from my accountant’s office will call and say, “Madam, in July you are meant to stand on your left foot, and in December on your right foot. And then, keep changing your foot, every three months. And remember to change the foot before midnight on the 5th of the month.”

So one year, I am shifting my weight from one foot to the other, when someone from my accountant’s office will call and say, “Madam, along with the left foot-right foot business, you were also meant to hop 2 steps ahead in March, and then turn 75 degrees to your left, and move back 2 steps in September. In October you turn 75 degrees to your right, and then hop ahead again in March.”

So the next year, I am trying to remember all the steps and practicing them as if I had to perform at a Filmfare Awards night in front of all the stars, when the same voice from my accountant’s office will call and say, “Madam, what is this? You never flapped your hands while moving your legs.” And the phone will be taken from her, and my accountant will come on the line and scold, “You really must follow the steps, Madam. You ought to know that it is no use hopping and twisting and going back and forth, if you don’t flap your hands.”

The end result every year is that I am paying penalties on interest, and interest on penalties, taxes on income, and taxes on taxes. And I am paying the accountant and his office an exorbitant proportion of all the money I pay the government. Every time I make the money transfer based on my balance sheet and computation of income, I think regretfully of all the ‘middle class mentality’ savings I made through the year, thinking one day, my accountant will say, “Madam, you are so wise with money.” But each time the accountant’s bill comes in, I can only hear the threat, “Madam, if you earn more, and carry on this way, we will have you standing on your head soon, and also doing somersaults.”

So I have come up with some ideas on how to save tax. Any additions to the list will be welcome.

  1. Don’t pay people you hire, the market rate. Pay them more.
  2. Don’t be suspicious of NGOs. Find some you can trust and support them.
  3. Buy handcrafted things, even if they are more expensive. Support local artisans.
  4. Use all the lovely things you have in your cupboards. Don’t store them for future use.
  5. Grow more flowers and more trees, even if they are not tax-deductible.
  6. Spend more time with your family, be more non-productive with your time, earn lesser money.
  7. Take on more jobs that satisfy you, even if they pay less.
  8. Celebrate more, but with less noise.
  9. Give more gifts, but not battery-operated.
  10. Tip more.
  11. Buy more books. Buy movies and music, don’t download for free.
  12. And above all, find an accountant who secretly wants to be a writer or filmmaker. So that you can be judgmental about his storytelling skills while he is being judgemental about your book-keeping.