A Very Taxing Job

Being a bookkeeper for our ranch is not one of my strong points. I would rather spend my time outside dealing with cow-related problems but the IRS won’t let me use that as an excuse.

Much to my relief, my husband and I recently got our taxes done and it will likely be another year before I start 2011′s book work.

I consider myself an organized, efficient person but these skills don’t apply to the required recordkeeping that’s needed for our ranch. I know there are easier and more organized ways to keep track of ranch expenses, ranch-related purchases and income from our cow-calf operation but I don’t have the willpower to establish a better way than waiting until January and February to get started.

There are ranch wives out there who do a much better job than I at regularly updating the books. Some use a computer to do the work for them but for me, that would mean I’d have to take extra time to enter everything, which I’m not willing devote any more time to the computer in order to do. Instead, I cram all my bookwork in a short period of time like a college student the night before a big exam.

I tell myself every year when I am forced to work inside to get all of our bookwork ready for our tax man, that I need to stay on top of the bookwork throughout the year. I make promises to myself and have even devised several different ways to make it easier for me to maintain, but once we’ve visited our taxman, I am so glad that our taxes are done that I can’t bring myself to follow through on the next year’s plan. I make the mistake of telling myself I have lots of time to get it started, so why not reward myself with a little break from the bookwork.

As a result, I put it off until it’s time to do it all over again. I do the minimum throughout the year, which entails filing all of our receipts by month to record later. When it’s time to work on taxes, I get out my table, ledger, 10-key calculator, accordion file of the year’s receipts, and boxes of checks written throughout the year.

This is what a section of my living room looks like for a few days. Or weeks.

I sort through what to keep and what needs tossed or shredded,

then  I organize, compile, record, add up, staple together, and fill in the figures in our handy-dandy tax packet provided by our tax preparer.

Getting the information gathered and recorded is quite simple to do but I just can’t seem to get enthused about getting started when there’s so many other interesting jobs to do, like cleaning out the muck in the barn, packing feed buckets or pushing up hay; even cleaning house is more appealing than spending time working on taxes. Don’t ask me why it’s such a big deal or I’d have to tell you.

Getting our information ready for our taxes is a drag to me but there is one good thing I can say about the task. It not only inspired me  to clean my house but gave me something to write about for my column. I wrote two different columns about my feelings towards doing taxes. I wrote both on days when I was thinking that I should get started on taxes but found it much easier to write about why I don’t like doing them.

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About ranchwifeslant

Amy writes a humor column based on rural living and ranch life from the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. She and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth generation cow/calf operation near Pringle; the Elk Capital of South Dakota.
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