Every so often I get a great idea for a blog early in the day but by the time I sit down to write it’s four hours later and the idea gets shoved aside because something better came along.
Boy, I wish that were the case here.
Nope, the fun blog idea will have to wait because I spent all of Thursday figuring out my income taxes.
And when I say “figuring out” I mean “totally lost and bewildered.”
I’m meeting Friday with accountant extraordinaire Johnny Cash (some of you know him for a prior named life as “Paul”). Johnny is a good friend to me and countless others for many reasons.
Right now? He basically holds my life in his hands. Not being over dramatic. OK, well, maybe a little.
Of all the new learn-this-quick additions that Just Wright Citrus brought into my life, the business end (don’t laugh) is the one I pay meticulous attention to.
Invoices go out the first of each month. Everything gets deposited into the business bank account. End of the month, the books are reconciled and I send the government a little token of my appreciation.
A year ago I was actually excited about sending in my first tax check. Me…Business Owner! Who saw that coming?
By the third month, I was writing off the mileage for driving the Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters’ driveway to fetch the morning paper.
I kept track of all of it the only way I know how: Badly. I mean, it made sense to me and I kept receipts and all that stuff, but truthfully I was just doing my best in the same way I would do my best at calculus.
The whole “keep-the-receipt” business is something that’ll take some getting used to. Johnny the Great tells me guidelines for a deductible expense are these two magic words: “ordinary” and “necessary.”
Seems easy, right? You’d think so. Consider:
I’m at the Manatee Festival, wearing a press pass from the chamber of commerce. I’m on Just Wright Citrus time. Let’s say, hypothetically, I buy a snowcone from a kid for 75 cents. Do I get a receipt? I mean, it’s ordinary but on a 40-degree day probably not necessary.
And since I’m a one-person business, am I not ALWAYS on company time? I’d like to start writing off all that Beefaroni Supreme my budget affords.
I did the best I could all year but now it’s fess up time.
I’m one of those people who the online tax return system was made for. Simple and easy. Every year my tax return took 10 minutes and a few months later I’d get a check from Uncle Sam that was always just enough to cover the expense of my car’s mysterious breakdown that came out of nowhere.
Some years I had to pay. The ultimate insult. Money taken from my paycheck every week and then, after 52 weeks, they WANT EVEN MORE?
Now, though, the 10-minute tax return is no more. Now I have a business and receipts, and tax code numbers and all that. And an accountant named Johnny Cash.
I can’t forget the reason I have all this to begin with. It’s the sponsors who pay me to advertise on the Just Wright Citrus blog. None of this happens without them.
I was reminded of that Thursday. I took a break from the tax madness to look at the Facebook page, where there were 38 comments from folks regarding the blog about county commission email.
It was a lively and spirited debate, veering from one topic to the next. Citrus County old-timers mixing it up with newbies, and not an insult in sight.
It’s beautiful watching Citrus County residents engaging at the online water cooler about this, that and the other thing. I’m able to bring those topics of conversation to you each morning because sponsors provide me the financial means to do so.
And, yeah, it’s a little annoying to see the feds getting so much of it. That money could be better used printing Just Wright Citrus stress-reliever rubber squeeze balls. Or coffee mugs.
I pay the tax because I’m fortunate to own a business that means something to people in this county. I guess that’s worth a buck or two.
Right Johnny? A buck or two…?
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.