Monday, April 12, 2010

Things you learn in a tax office on April 12th...

You should do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Paul to the Philippians

Try that one on, April 12th in a CPA office.

People do things like walk in with 70 pages of documents and look sincerely perplexed when you can't promise them, by the end of the day, a completed extension. You see, you can file an extension on April 15th. But the IRS has no interest in you delaying payment. In fact they will charge you interest and penalties if you don't pay what you owe by April 15th. So a taxpayer either needs to sit himself down with Turbo Tax and answer all those questions. Or, you need to give your accountant enough time to essentially prepare your return. Hopefully only leaving one or two items to estimate because someone hasn't gotten their documents to you on time.

Alas neither of these choices were embraced so you the tax accountant are left with that shocked look. You mean you can't tell me for sure if I owe anything or not before April 15th? There is a part of you that wants to do the impossible, to sacrifice yourself more to make yet another client happy. Then when you realize you are being asked for the impossible you can be tempted to swing the total opposite extreme. You think things like... Are you kidding me? Seriously!!! Do you understand what we do here? Silly me. Of course they don't! That's why they have brought you their stuff.

It's such a killer to have worked so hard since February 1st, to do good work for many people. To then to have late comers walk in and communicate displeasure at your unwillingness to serve them by their definition of well. So hard to not get a little bitter about it!

You take a deep breath and the hard and truthful answer gets delivered. "We can file an extension. We can't calculate what you owe. If it turns out you did not pay enough. You will owe penalties and interest as well. But we can help you avoid this next year."

That answer actually considers someone else as better than yourself. It offers them respect because it is hard news to deliver and it is truthful. My sad moment today was when I found myself seriously tempted to belittle a latecomer and make them feel ridiculous. Definitely not a reaction that is considering someone else as better than myself. Quite the opposite really. Interesting that I'm only seriously tempted to that in some kind of fantasy world. We've all trained ourselves to remain "professional" in such encounters.

This is why everything in life is sacred ground. Every work environment provides you the opportunity to truly practice loving and respecting other people and doing it in a way that is not unloving or disrespectful to yourself. Every family environment is the same too. How can we think in terms of us? Not you or me?

With some people, I did well today. It was about us solving a problem together. With others. I didn't do as well as I would like to do in the future. I don't want to respond with irritation and self justifying thoughts. I'm grateful for another day to keep these words from scripture in mind and invite the Lord to help me try again.

Anybody need an extension filed?

Cracked myself up!

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