The Promise of Better

And a failure to comply…


Dining table before compliance

On a January afternoon like this one you hesitate to go outdoors, even though the sun is shining and the temperature is well above freezing. There’s a north-northwest wind gusting to 70 km/45 mi per hour. You could blow right over, into one of the large and ice-bottomed puddles that spread on my village’s roads during a melt. Instead, it’s a good day for admitting that there’s no such thing as being a full time, all the time, no-excuses artist. Not unless you count being bookkeeper, studio assistant, preparator, curator, publicist, researcher and webmaster as part of that.

Of course, you have to. Like many artists, I’d rather spend all my time at the easel, struggling with whatever painting is currently giving me grief, but like most artists, I know that if I don’t do these other things, no one will.

And there are long stretches sometimes when no one does. Especially no one does the bookkeeping. Numbers and I have an uneasy relationship. Sorting receipts and entering dollar amounts is one of the least fun things I can think of.

But the bookkeeping has gotten out of hand. I’m almost nine months in arrears in my Canadian Goods and Services Tax filing. Revenue Canada Agency is sending me letters in brown envelopes. I’m called “non-compliant” and my tax refunds will be withheld. Vaguely, worse threats hover.

So today, in the wind, I will comply. Sort receipts into three-month quarters, then into categories within the quarters. Enter numbers into Excel spreadsheets. I give thanks for Excel. Add up kilometers travelled for business and expenses for business use of home. Figure out the car’s percentage of business use and the studio’s percentage of costs to run my house. Use bank deposit book to enter income by source. How much GST did I pay? That’s input costs. How much did I charge? That’s GST collected or collectible. Subtract one from the other. Hold my breath.

Let my breath go. GST is collectible from only Canadian sources. In 2014 much of my income was American. In all quarters, I collected less GST than what I paid. Revenue Canada owes me, not the other way around. I press the File button on the GST web page. Now there are no more brown envelopes to worry about. No more vague threats.

You’d think I’d learn. Not let things get like this. I always promise to do better next time. But my easel is still more fun than the file folders. My lack of love for numbers is a failing, I know. We all have a few.

What are you promising to do better?

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4 Responses to The Promise of Better

  1. carolyn caldwell January 25, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    Laureen, I hear your pain with all those receipts and accounting. Did you ever consider using Quicken? You know your way around computers so am surprised you are not using it. It can cut your time spent on that stuff by 80% once you get it set up. I just reconciled 4 accounts in about 20 minutes, and can do a report with income and business expenses in just a minute or two. I can’t imagine doing all that stuff by hand.

    • Laureen January 25, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

      Thanks, I will absolutely check into Quicken. I tend not to because I assume that the flaw is in the human rather than in the methods the human uses 🙂 Maybe it isn’t!

  2. Sweetie Berry January 26, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    Oh how I know this pain. I work in multiple states and we moved too! I found that going electronic did help me. I chose Less Accounting for the founders are creatives too and they have a human (s) who walk you through any time you have issues. Love that.

    • Laureen January 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

      Thank you! It’s always better to know we are not alone 🙂 I will definitely look into this option as well. Hadn’t heard about it before and love the name. What a fount of information artists are.