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Itís spring, when a young womanís fancy turns to thoughts of... taxes.

2004-04-06 - 9:04 a.m.

I hate doing taxes and the last few years have been fairly complicated tax-wise so Iíve been putting off doing them for much, much longer than I should have. This year I have to turn over a new leaf because, for the first time, Iím going to owe money and will have to file and pay on time to avoid being penalized. So I rolled up my sleeves, got out my spreadsheets, and bit the bulletÖ and hired an accountant to do my taxes for me. I sent him a backgrounder and my spreadsheets, which were as incredibly detailed and formatted as my anal personality could make them. I asked, and re-asked, if he could think of anything Iíd omitted and been told that Iíd supplied everything necessary.

I got back the return for perusal and approval and thought to myself, hm, I wonder if I can also put the utilities for that unit towards my adjusted cost base? So, just in case, I ferreted them out, put them into a spreadsheet, and called the accountant this morning. Sure enough, I could use them to reduce my capital gains I had to claim. Now, the value of these utilities adds up to over a thousand dollars and at a minimum 20% interest rate, that means I just saved myself at least $200. Which is great, except, well, shouldnít he have caught that? Shouldnít he have noticed that I hadnít claimed anything for utilities on that housing unit? Isnít that why I went to the trouble and expense of hiring an accountant? So that I wouldnít have to worry about things getting left out?

Iím only human and I know I canít think of everything all the time, hence the hiring of experts to do things like this for me. Not missing stuff, and maximizing my return, are kind of the points of hiring someone to do it. If it was just going to be slapping the numbers that I provided down into an electronic tax system, without checking to see if they were valid claims or if everything that could be there was there, heck, I can do that myself.

When I raised it with him, he admitted he hadnít thought of it because the original building was demolished and it hadnít occurred to him that once the new one was built it would incur utility expenses. I pointed out that once it was far enough along in construction it needed to be heated so that the pipes didnít freeze in the winter, though I refrained from adding that lights had to be turned on to show it in the evenings/make it look like it wasnít vacant, and power was also needed to test various systems and to run various construction tools.

On the positive side, I did catch the omission and the extra savings will pay the accountantís fee; I just hope heís earned it and hasnít left anything else out that I could potentially benefit from claiming.

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