Tax Time: or why I’m giving up stories of scarcity

urban apple treeThe last weekend in January is tax time in the UK.  At least it’s tax time if you’re a procrastinator, like me.  Today is pretty much the last day you can file your taxes in the UK without incurring a late fine.  So today was the day I sat down to sort my finances out. Taxes are actually far more straightforward in the UK than back in Canada, where the government uses tax law to influence behaviour, creating loads of tax credits (and lots of complicated calculations).  My 2012-2013 UK taxes took me less than 2 hours to complete, and that was with having to integrate my meagre author earnings with my day job’s.

Once I’ve sat down to do them, I find filing tax returns a satisfying activity.  I was 16 the first time I filed a return.  I didn’t pay taxes back then, since my income did not exceed the allowance, but filling out the forms made me feel like a full member of society.  Now that I do pay taxes, I feel like a full contributor to society, although I don’t agree with everything my money gets spent on (it angers me that my taxes go towards paying mega-rich f@#$&rs massive bonuses for running banks into public receivership and to fund the UK’s war machine).  At least some of it goes towards education, healthcare, conservation and social support.

The online tax filing process produces a handy overview of my income from one April 5th to the next helps me with my financial planning (what little I actually do), but brings up conflicting emtions.  Living in a culture obsessed with celebrity, where celebrity is both rewarded with excessive amounts of money and is sometimes earned solely through being excessively rich, it can be easy to lose perspective.  Working in a sector (higher education) that is ridiculously hierarchical, where the highest paid staff can earn up to 30 times more than the lowest paid staff, also warps views on what is enough.  With the human brain’s tendency to compare upwards, it’s all too easy for me to slip into stories of lack and entitlement.

The thing is, stories of scarcity  and entitlement are making individuals miserable, driving increases in the income gap and ultimately killing life on this planet.  So on January 30th, I am letting go of my own stories of scarcity and entitlement.  To help this process, I put my 2012-2013 net income (cribbed off my HMRC tax calculations sheet) into this global calculator: globalrichlist.  It certainly put things into perspective, showing me my income is way more than enough already when seen from a global point of view.

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