Monday, August 23, 2010

My tax license

At the end of 2002, I was at a crossroad.  I had been at my job with the local CAT dealership for 5 years and I was not happy.  I had tried to leave the year before but was enticed to stay with a hefty raise and the promise of more supervisory-type responsibilities.  I was young and restless and I wanted to see if I had it in me to be more than an entry-level staff accountant.  The company I worked for, however, was (as my co-worker liked to say) heavy on the chiefs and light on the Indians.  Every time there were cuts, they were done at the staff level with the remaining staffers expected to pick up the slack  By the end of 2002, I had absorbed payroll and the other staff accountant's tasks in addition to my own.  I was burnt out.  The assistant controller was starting to make noise about retiring-I liked to point out he started working there the year I was born-and the controller wanted to groom me to take over that position.  I realized that while I adored the assistant controller (he was what I imagined a favorite uncle would be like), I didn't want to be him.    

I knew I wanted to stay in the accounting field but wasn't sure what I wanted to do in it, so I decided to go to H&R Block Tax School. James and I decided that if nothing else it would make me more versatile and possibly more marketable.  (In a case of it's a small world, my next door neighbor was in the class as well-the class was one of many offered in Portland, not Vancouver-and that is actually how we got to know him.  He would come over on Sundays to study with me). While he was never pushy about it, James always thought I should go back to school for the random 10 credits I need to sit for the CPA exam and get my license.    Right after the class ended, my friend had a client who was hiring so I applied for that position and got the job.  It worked out well-I was able to interview the week I was on "maternity leave" with Sammy so I didn't have to make up lame excuses for taking off work.
I had just gotten my license and that first year I didn't have to do any continuing education.  Before the end of the first year, we moved to Arizona so I put my license in inactive status.  I decided I would hold on to it and keep up with the education in case I ever decided to pursue this-we were thinking along the lines I could do it part time after I retired.

For the last few years, I have wondered why I am keeping it.  I am not preparing taxes professionally, nor do I have any plans to start.  Because of all the intricate rules that come with owning a rental property and because of now having to deal with the State Franchise Tax Board of California, whom I have had to try to convince James does not owe money to, I am no longer planning to do my own taxes.  Between the education and the license fee it is costing me several hundred dollars a year that I don't really have in the budget right now for a license I'm not using.  If I have tax questions, I just annoy my CPA friends with them.  But I'm having a hard time letting it go and I don't know why.  I guess I feel like a failure and like I'm a disappointment if I do.

I wish I could talk this over with James.  He was the one who patiently listened to me complain about how tired I was while taking the class and who patiently accepted I had homework to do on the weekends and couldn't go out and play until I was done.  He was the one that sat me on the futon and made me finish my homework when I tried to convince him we should do something-anything else.  He was the one that had to listen to me go on and on about how I failed the state exam while we waited for my results.  He was the one that said "I told you so" when I told him I passed.  He was the one who was not the least bit surprised I scored so well.  (I was shocked beyond belief). 

My license is up for renewal at the end of September.  If I keep it, I have to do 60 hours of continuing education between now and then because I went inactive last year and would have to do my hours for both years.  If James was here, we would be sitting on the couch cross-legged facing each other weighing the pros and cons.  Of course, if he was here, I wouldn't have the rental and would be doing our taxes so the basis for the conversation would be completely different.  He would help me pinpoint who I feel like I am failing or disappointing.  He would tell me he would support either choice.  Perhaps what is weighing me down is the reality that no one really cares what I do-hell, most people don't even know I have a tax license-about this or any choice I make.  There is no one to disappoint except myself and I've been pretty disappointed lately.

This seems like such a stupid thing to be sitting here in tears over.  It's not like I couldn't go back to tax school and get another license down the road if I chose to.  And if I did that, it would probably be because I was in a position where someone else was paying for it.  It seems stupid to keep paying for something I might, but realistically most likely won't use some day 30 years from now. And quite frankly, I'm hoping that when I retire I will actually be in a position to not have to work part time.  I'm looking forward to my second "career" as a professional volunteer.

It is days like this that I really, really hate this life.  I just wish I had someone to talk to.  Someone who could help me see it is okay if I let go and to help me understand why I can't.

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