Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bedlam and Brown Envelopes...

Yesterday afternoon I was going to do some accounting chores--sadly neglected since the end of 2012.  I have a wire basket where I toss all the stuff that needs to be filed, and once it reaches overflow, I figure it's time to sit down and sort through things. 

And yeah, I know that's a pile of paperwork there in that basket...

So naturally, just when I'm sitting down to get to it, the boys wanted to take a walk.  Fine, whatever, I don't really mind procrastinating a bit.  It was one of those innocent little moments where I'm enjoying the hike to the mail box, clueless that when I open that little door--**cue the Psycho shower scene sound effects**--I will find the infamous, gut-clenching Brown Envelopes of Doom, otherwise known as Her Majesty's Revenue.

The IRS is like preschool compared to HM Revenue.  There was a reason we fought the British over taxation back in the day; and we can't discount the centuries they've had to perfect the system, refine the confusion, mire the paperwork in language no one can comprehend, then tax the crap out of their citizens who will pay anything just to make them go away.

It took me months after Alan was gone to get things straightened out with the tax people.  One of my meetings when I went back to Edinburgh last year was with my solicitor to go over the contents of several Brown Envelopes.  We got everything sorted and I sighed with relief that I had survived the convoluted machinations of the British government.

A few months ago I got a little refund check based on last year's taxes; I sent it to my bank in Scotland, as of course the check was in pounds, not dollars.  Go figure.  Apparently HM Revenue hates parting with that dosh, making it as difficult as possible when they have to refund.

So, yesterday.  It's bad enough when I get one brown envelope, but I stare in horror at two of them, laying like vipers in my mail box.  I honestly don't even want to touch them--my experience with HM Revenue has not been easy or pleasant.

The first one says I owe £608.00 on last year's taxes (remember that I've already received a refund for that tax period?)  I read the letter, and the calculation form that supposedly explains why I have this tax repayment (yeah, right).  My head spins and my stomach tightens.  How could I owe that kind of money when nothing about my income or circumstance has changed? 

The second envelope is a refund check for £608.00 on last year's taxes.

I am convinced HM Revenue does this to people so they will go insane, have to be committed to Bedlam, allowing the government to swoop in and take everything.  Nothing else makes sense.

So, long story short:  I didn't do my accounting work yesterday after all.  I stewed about the two letters, then poured myself a very, very large glass of wine and walked away from the table.

Today I must try to make sense of this, which will require digging out two years' worth of paperwork, peruse several old emails from my solicitor, and reread these two letters, searching for hidden encryption to understand what this all means. 

I'm thinking Bedlam might be a better option...

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