When I mentioned at the end of my last post that the weather was getting back to normal, I was telling a whopper that would have made George Bush blush. I didn’t know it at the time, but our fair city was under siege from a cyclone named Pancho. Its ferocity generated 130 km an hour winds, toppled huge trees, shattered scores of yachts and killed at least two people. Two hundred housand people lost their power and some are still in the dark, four days later.

It has been reported since as an event that happens only once in a hundred years. Foolhardy as usual, yours truly took the wife for a walk right in the middle of it. I did notice that the sky was an odd, dirty yellow and there were not many pedestrians about. But we marched blithely on, cursing our lack of perspicacity only when the rain began pelting down and soaked us before we reached the car. It didn’t seem all that scary where we were, but when you read about the wind blowing over a brick wall, you know something is amiss.

The weather that has affected me most of late is a dark cloud that arrives every year, and it seems to come earlier and earlier. I used to think it was seasonal affective disorder. I did resent the dwindling amount of daylight in the Northern hemisphere as winter set in, but it finally dawned on me that my cranky mood didn’t really kick in until March. By that time, winter was almost over. It was the tax cloud.

When I was younger, taxes never bothered me. My income/outgo financial situation was not large, and moving from place to place simply meant pulling up stakes and getting a passport renewed. When your stuff can no longer be packed in a suitcase, when you begin to buy property, when you buy stocks and bonds, start small businesses, then the great black tax clouds begin to gather overwhelming force.

Your life may still be that of a nomad, but it gets very difficult to truly leave anywhere behind. We are no longer residents of Canada or the United States, but we are filing taxes there. Next year we may add another country to the list, if only as a one off. And none of the preparation is easy anymore. I would guess that many Americans over the age of twenty-five can no longer prepare their own taxes. The best government money can buy has created a tax act so convoluted that even CPA’s are bewildered.

Canada used to be relatively simple, but more and more it seems to take its cues from the U.S. I nominate this country as the best of the bunch. Our filing in Australia last year was straight-forward enough that I could actually do it myself online. But we don’t own a house, a business, or any investments here, so I’m not in a position to judge how we might fare in different circumstances. It does seem more like an honor system than any other jurisdiction we have lived in. I like that. It shows a remarkable faith in the essential honesty and decency of the people.

Of all the places we have lived, Hong Kong was the best by far from the tax point of view. A flat fifteen per cent of income. You could do your return in fifteen minutes. It was heavenly. If only we had their tax regime available in a more livable location, say Melbourne.  If only you didn’t have to put up with Hong Kong’s terrible air pollution, exorbitant rents, rudeness and spitting, not to mention the tornadoes….

If only….. Never mind. I’ll keep my mouth shut. Get out the calculator, buckle down and just do them.

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