Death and Taxes

The Grim Reaper has never been as scary as the tax man. (Excerpt from Have Fun, Get Paid: How to Make a Living With Your Creativity)

If money changes hands, you’re doing business. I live in America and can’t speak to the details of other nations, but I can, without a doubt, guarantee you that where there’s a government, there’s taxation. If you’re engaged in commerce, then sooner or later, the tax man cometh.

I can assure you that in matters of taxes more than any other, aversion will not be an effective strategy. If you think it’s a hassle having less money because you had to give up a percentage of it to the authorities, that discomfort pales in comparison to the joys you’ll experience if you try to avoid, through negligence or outright deceit, the filing or payment of what’s due.

You have two, and only two, choices. Encounter a little discomfort today by taking care of business or experience a great deal of unpleasantness later when the long arm of the law wraps its bony little fingers around your bank account, with interest and penalties far exceeding the original amount.

If you’re a self-employed artist of any kind, no one is withholding taxes from your paychecks (except in certain rare circumstances). Plan to put aside money every month to ensure you have enough to pay estimated taxes quarterly or the full amount at the end of the year.

In terms of financial disasters, not putting away money is probably the most common trap that you can fall into. Life in the arts is often a hand-to-mouth existence. Your focus, therefore, tends to be on paying the rent each month, not what you’ll do about your taxes eleven months from now. If things are tight, it will be very tempting to spend everything you receive. From a perfectly logical point of view, if you’re that tight for the money to pay one month’s rent today, what do you think the chances are that money will fall from the heavens to pay an entire year’s worth of taxes when they come due?

Money management and taking care of your financial obligations is something that is very, very important to you. Should you not be willing to take anyone’s word on this I can assure you that you’ll learn it the hard way.

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