Slow Finance

Nobody can really say they like doing their taxes. Well, maybe they would if they knew they were getting back a huge refund at the end of the year. But most of us dread doing the paperwork, the countless items, lines and numbers that lead us down the path to the Internal Revenue Service (or, in my case, to the German Finanzamt).

As an American expat, I am still required to file my US tax returns. It feels like an exercise in futility because I pay taxes in Germany. But every year around mid-March, I fill out the forms like a good citizen, if only for the privilege of having a US passport.

It dawned on my several years ago that it’s not such a bad thing, having to fill out these forms, consider what income came in and how much flew out the door. I began thinking of it as preparatory work for my German taxes (although I have a brilliant tax accountant whose patience is immeasurable and likes the challenge of having a client whose tax situation is….um…confusing). When I turned around my attitude, I started to think of other good things about tax season, such as the trip down Memory Lane that it affords us.

Oh yes, I remember last March in New York…or did I really pay that much for that cheesy hotel? Or…what exactly did I eat at that restaurant while wooing Client X into some business?

There is opportunity in all experiences. We can see the glass half full or half empty. We can choose to view the duties of life like scrubbing toilets, taking out the trash or washing windows as drudgery. Or we can be grateful for all that we have.

I may never be in love with the IRS, but I am happy for the chance to remember all that I experienced in 2012.

May your tax season be merry, bright, painless and short. And may those forms remind you of how great your life truly is.


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