The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

That time of year

January is the Lost Month in terms of creativity, action and getting on with life. Instead it is the month of stress, despair, and much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Yes, Christmas and New Year celebrations are now past, and the house returns to looking duller without the twinkly lights.

But that’s not it.

Bank accounts tend to look rather overdrawn as the cost of Christmas becomes all too apparent.

But that’s not it.

The weather is usually dull, wet, cold and grey.

But that’s not it.

Spring, sun, flowers and warmth are still many months away.

But that’s not it.

Coughs, colds, flu and a whole multitude of illnesses are flying about.

But that’s not it.

No one I know has any birthdays or other reasons to party or celebrate.

But that’s not it.

No one’s looking to have their photo taken as they are in hibernation mode, and grumpy from the lack of sunlight, excess weight, sugar withdrawal, illnesses and empty back account.

But that’s not it.

Of course none of these things exactly helps, but there is something else far worse than all these things.

Something so dominating it obscures everything else.

Something that churns the guts and suggests suicide or skipping the country as a possible avoidance strategy.

Something we swear every year we will make damn sure will be less painful in future.

Our Self Assessment Tax Returns are due NO LATER THAN JANUARY 31ST!

Every year the whole of January is lost to a combination of :

trying to find receipts, bank statements and cheque books
trying to sort receipts, bank statements and cheque books into some kind of order
trying to match receipts, bank statements and cheque books so they all tally up
trying to enter all the information into a spreadsheet
trying to make sense of the Self Assessment Tax Return forms
spending hours on the phone in queues for the Self Assessment Tax Return Helpline while all the “operators are busy”
trying to figure out how to get online and logged in to submit the Self Assessment Tax Return
trying to find a way to submit the Self Assessment Partnership Tax Return figures as Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs doesn’t supply an online submission option for this particular form.
trying to decide which figures go into which boxes once we have tracked down, paid for and downloaded a pay-for Self Assessment Partnership Tax Return that can be submitted online to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs
trying to interpret how to submit the downloaded software so Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs recognises and accepts the figures we’ve inputted

All the while cursing, and overflowing with self-loathing, for not being more organised and leaving everything to the last minute. Again.

Of course, next year will be different…


Carole said...

100% accurate

Gillian said...

Oh i know....its a terrible time.

mapstew said...

Mine were due 31st Dec! Yikes! 2008! Double Yikes!!!

Nearly there.... :¬0

cannwin said...

Me + January = The beginning of 3 1/2 months of hating the .87% share we own in a bunch of land I've never laid eyes on.

Why? Because although the tax junk is due at the end of January, no one will be getting that information out until a week before they are due in April. Oh and don't suggest any legal ramifications or the in-laws might get offended and point out in not so subtle ways that it is his share and not mine. (never mind that I do the taxes and am married to the man)

Yes. January is dark. Thanks for reminding me.

::Throws self off cliff::

Eryl Shields said...

I knew there was reason to be glad no one ever pays me for anything!

V said...

Do you think self employed accountant are as bad as the rest of us?!

St Jude said...

Oh I am with you on that one.

thingy said...

Maybe January is the best time for such awfulness.

The deadline for paying taxes in the U.S. is April, when birds are singing and creatures are being born.

It's like a big mole on a lovely face.

Scotsman said...

Trust me it doesn't get any better, I was self employed for 11 years and I left it to the last minute every time. There is always something better to do the rest of the year than sort your taxes.

That's probably the one and only thing I don't miss about not having my own business now.

Chocolatesa said...

Isn't there some sort of service or business that you can pay to do your taxes for you? My MIL is an accountant so I paid her to do mine.

Pat said...

Just asked MTL if he's done his tax and he said no they haven't sent the form and he thinks we are probably paying too much tax. I think he's teasing me.

Helen said...

Hey Bearded One! I have just one word for you - evasion. Perhaps a nice long holiday over here in tropical Qld? Now that would be fun!!!

hope said...

Okay, since it is taxes which are taxing your patience, I will overlook the fact that "no one has a birthday in January", even though you wished me a happy one. :)

Yep, April 15th is the day of suffering here. Which is why I try to get things done by mid February. Why? Because I HATE all that paperwork!

You have my sympathy. Sorry I can't get birthday cake to pass through this monitor. ;)

savannah said...

Of course, next year will be different…

i think i said this last year, too!

Midnitefyrfly said...

ahhh... Tax season! The wonderful time of year where in the US if you are a wage slave and do not own your home and you have children, you get the blessed "earned income credit" along with a standard deduction. No receipts and not much paperwork... The one time of a year I financially look forward to!

Sorry it isn't so pleasant for you! All's I can say is that I hope it is as painless as possible and passes quickly! ahhck -that sounds like condolences for passing kidney stones- that can't be good.


Ron Tipton said...

I loved this post Kim. Again, you are so original. I do sympathize with you over doing your annual taxes. What was it that Ben Franklin said? "There are two things in life that are unavoidable, death and taxes." And I think the latter is more painful.

Cheri Pryor said...

The word "taxes" makes any month depressing. So happy to have stumbled across your blog. Have loved reading many of your insightful posts!

Synergy Gallery said...

I beg to differ (although I offer deep sympathies)...

January is the school holidays here in Australia, so its six weeks of sleep ins and no stressful driving.

January it is my birthday. That makes it two weeks of feasting, friends, family and fun over Xmas, New Years and my day. (if I haven't got the birthday blues that is).

January here is filled with festivals, music, parties and other fun things.

January - galleries are usually closed - which means holidays for me!

Oh, and here January means SUMMER!

... and add to that the fact that they time TAX stuff for June the dead of WINTER here. Not only do we see a strange pattern occurring with sadistic tax timings, but we also see a real reason to migrate! (or at least come visit next January Kim :)

btw Eryl, I know what you mean!

Mary Witzl said...

Oh God -- you've reminded me that ours are due too, one for each adult natıonality in our house. I HATE taxes!

You had me on the edge of my seat with this one, you know. You had me cringing, just waiting for it...

Anonymous said...

I think there's therapy for that.


Katie Roberts said...

Sorry Kim, thats really funny and dumb, I was signed in as the gallery I run. Ooooops !

"I beg to differ...." etc etc

Above rant, by me. Did you guess?

Ron Tipton said...

Kim is a treasure. I love the guy!

asmita said...

Very true... I agree especially with the depleting bank account, and this is coming from a penniless research scholar trying to make ends meet on a shoe string monthly budget!

Happy New Year, btw :)

Charlie said...

January 31st! How utterly inhuman!

As others have mentioned, we Yanks have until April 15th. I have my start date as April 10th so I'll have plenty of time to go crazy.

Suz said...

Well, I work for an accountant. We are on the receiving end of frantic people who can't find their receipts or all the information they need to file their tax returns.

At least your time is short, life ripping off a bandage quickly. We have 41/2 months and that is like peeling the bandage back verrry slowly.

I sympathize and wish you luck for the next week!

Kim Ayres said...

Carole - I knew you'd understand :)

Gillian - *nods*

Mapstew - what? And they haven't sentenced you to 3 years of scorpians in your pants?

Cannwin - you have lemming blood in you?

Eryl - no one pays me either, but I have to prove that to the tax man...

V - hmmm... quite possibly worse...

St Jude - I suspected I might not be alone with this...

Thingy - maybe when you're lying on the floor in pain, that's the best time to kick you...

Scotsman - I've been self employed for 12 years. However, I'm pretty certain that in this time I have become completely unemployable, so I just have to live in hope that one day I'll earn enough money to pay someone else to do it for me

Chocolatesa - that solution requires money, which is not a strong point in this house...

Pat - I'd double check on that one - they don't send us a form now either - they expect us to do it online

Helen - the only flaw in that argument is if I could afford the flights to Oz, I could probably afford an accountant to do the tax returns for me...

Hope - but did you invite me to your birthday?

Savannah - has there ever been a year we didn't?

Midnitefyrfly - thank you - ((hugs)) back :)

Ron - and procrastination. It's part of the human condition

Cheri - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for your warm words :)

Katie - Clearly I need to spend summer in Scotland and summer in Australia

Mary - as you spend more time not in the Uk than here, do you have to pay them in the UK?

Barbara - where do I sign up?

Ron - you wouldn't if I was your accountant...

Asmita - and a happy new year to you too!

Charlie - if you get your tax submitted by April 15th, then I know you'll survive another year as there's no way you'll go through all that hassle only to croak 2 days later...

Suz - we actually start worrying about it back in September but keep pushing it away until the screams can no longer be contained...

angryparsnip said...

I love January !
I like the quiet after all the excess of the holidays plus
I have a Birthday ! Yea !

Having Taxes due end of January is quite awful though.
Mine are due in April. Taxes are bad anytime and we have 4 months of tax commercials to endure. Argh !

Falak said...

I sympathize with you Kim even though I am just a jobless, young student dependent on her parents because that's how wonderfully written this post is. The only time I worried about taxes was when I had income tax as a lesson in Math.

thingy said...


I like my despair in one big mug.

Miss Blue Sky said...

Hi Kim,
You should keep a folder with all your receipts, monthly spreadsheets and bank statements in it and have different sections for each month. That's what I do for the playgroup.If I lived in Castle Douglas I'd volunteer to keep your books in order.
I don't think anyone likes January, it's hard to get back to normal after Christmas!

Kim Ayres said...

AngryParsnip - I rarely watch TV now so fortunately miss all the adverts for it

Falak - I don't think we ever did income tax in maths lessons at school, although it would probably have been far more useful than quadratic equations...

Thingy - :)

Layla - you're hired!

Ron Tipton said...


I did the first run through of my taxes today. Painful, irritating, and frustrating but done. Now to let them season for a while then take a fresh run through in a couple of weeks to see what I missed. Like you, I dread this time of year. A necessary evil for sure.


Ron Tipton said...


Miss Blue Sky's recommendation is excellent. It is exactly what I do. Everything seperated into months makes preparing the taxes much less painful. Still painful mind you, but less so.

Ron Tipton said...


You constantly amaze me. You have CFS and yet answer all of your comments. I don't know how you do it. Kudos to you my friend.

Anonymous said...

I'll know exactly how you feel shortly as IRS tax time is right around the corner. Take heart yours will be done (is done?) soon.

michael greenwell said...

You could do a bit of celebrating for Rabbie Burns on monday if you feel like you need something to celebrate.

It is a great thing that we celebrate the life of a poet and not only warriors.

The Birdwatcher said...

and I stupid boy have offered to do family and friends returns for them. So of course they can leave it all to the last minute and then expect me to get it sorted. Next weekend will be fun filled. That is probably why Mrs BW has decided to go away and stay with friends. Oh joy.

Tiffin said...

What an awful time of year for taxes! Ours are at the end of April. Everyone's brain is frozen in January. How can they expect you to do taxes with a frozen brain? Heartfelt sympathy.

Helen Mac said...

I hope no one else has said this already, if so I apologise for not reading every comment.

I used to be exactly the same but now my pain is about one tenth of yours. I employ an accountant. He charges about £125 and saves me more than that every year because he knows ALL the rules and how to submit it all online (he does this for me).

He also knows how to translate my OK records into what the Revenue want in each box. And he does all the matching up of receipts and invoices, all the working out of allowances etc

But best of all he saves me so much stress and time. I am indebted and in love with him every January. This year my tax bill is tiny. How does he do it?

Honestly Kim, get an accoutant, it's a revelation and I bet you'll save money.

Ron Tipton said...


Helen Mac's advice is excellent for your situation.....get an accountant. Obviously your financial situation is much trickier than mine (which is very simple) because of your home business and family.

I think you will find in the long run the money you spend on employing an account is well worth the time and stress it saves for you.


Kim Ayres said...

Ron - Miss Blue Sky's recommendation is, of course, spot on. But there's the world of difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it...

Allen - still ongoing...

Michael - but I cannae abide haggis!

Birdwatcher - oh dear - you have my sympathies!

Tiffin - Well, strictly speaking, they could have been filed at any time since last April, it's just then end of January is the latest they can be submitted...

Helen (and Ron) - unfortunately, having an accountant to reduce my tax bill is a non-starter. Having an accountant to help work out the losses would be great - but because of said losses, affording an accountant isn't an option...

Ron Tipton said...

We're gonna resolve this Kim. One way or tother :)

Kim Ayres said...

Ron - if you have any wealthy friends who want to part with big bucks to fly me over and photograph their portrait, that would help... :)

Ron Tipton said...


I have wealthy friends but they don't get their portraits taken. I do but I'm not wealthy. I go to J. C. Penney instead. If you were here, I would definitely utilize your services.


Mimi and Tilly said...

Kim, thanks for your lovely comment about me receiving the blog awards. Do you participate in blog awards?

Kim Ayres said...

Emma - not usually to be honest. I've done a few in the past, but they were always getting passed onto the same people, so it ended up feeling like cliques were being built.

So while it's lovely another blogger thought of me, I don't usually write blog posts about them and pass them on

Ron Tipton said...


You win first place with me. Of all the blogs I've read, yours is consistently the best. I wish I had 1/10th of your talent.

Much success to you my friend.


I don't belong in any cliques. I'm on the outside looking in.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks for your kind words Ron. I've always been on the outside looking in too. I neither desire nor really understand cliques.

Ron Tipton said...

Cliques have always mystified me. I think I've finally figured them out after a lifetime of trying to understand them. I think it is a way for the people in the cliques to protect themselves from their own poor self image. In a clique they can falsly believe they are more important than they really are. Any clique I have ever entered I have found to be populated with individuals who I dont' like so it is a moot point whether or not they like me. People with genuine character don't need cliques to hide behind for fear of exposing their real ugliness.

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