When I was hired, at the end of 2011, by the company I was at for the last couple of years (until recently– now I am on my own with my own clients), I kind of stopped wanting to deal with my Mexican tax status. Working full time, I wasn’t active anymore as a freelancer, so no longer giving out receipts and collecting fees, and under law here my company was now responsible for what I owed, including the paperwork.
However, after I took the full-time job and stopped freelancing, my accountant (I) was still obligated to keep reporting on my activity, even though my activity was null, until I changed my status in the system. My accountant was doing for me what they call here filing in zeroes, meaning reporting every month that I had no earnings, and charging me about 50 bucks for it (600 pesos). I decided I could probably do that myself for free, so I asked her for my tax system password to do just that. But she didn’t give it to me, and she continued filing me in zeroes (there is a good explanation for this*). So I just stopped paying her.
Embarrassingly, which I even vaguely felt at the time. Now I can articulate it: it’s always a mistake not to fully understand, value and appreciate the service one is receiving from a professional.
That was January of 2012. Since then I have been hemming and hawing about how I need to call my account but, etc., and 48 months have gone by.
Now that I am working independently again, I felt motivated enough to finally decide I would call her up. I did that thing where you assign yourself the most dreaded tasks for first thing in the morning. Morning came, I sucked it up, and I called her. And she was really nice, even though I think I woke her up. She was single when I last spoke to her, and now she’s married and three months pregnant. We set a meeting for today, and she came over with all my paperwork, which she had saved in neat, labelled folders, and explained to me what we will do. And at the end I asked her how much it would cost, and she’s giving me a discount, but it’s still going to cost 12,000 pesos (about 900 dollars).
That’s 500 pesos for every month that’s gone by. Not actually that bad, from the perspective of what accountants charge. But from the perspective of what I have done, versus what I could have done, and why I did it, it’s ridiculous. I could have deactivated my taxpayer status two years ago and saved practically a US grand in unnecessary accounting services. But I didn’t, because I was being a baby. I guess maybe Lauryn Hill went through this same thing.
One upside is that I find blowing money on stupid stuff entertaining. Rubber chickens and scratch tickets and stuff. I hadn’t really done it in a while. Plus now that I am starting my own venture, I feel like this is a good lesson to have already learned. In a way it makes me feel validated as a small business, to be spending so much on “unnecessary accounting”… it’s helping me ease into the scale of finances that I am going to face going forward, where a thousand dollars to rectify your tax standing isn’t really expensive at all. For the old me, the informally employed and underpaid worker, it was “unnecessary accounting,” right enough– and while I could have easily avoided incurring the need to effectively back-pay services that didn’t need to be done, I did not do that. So for the new me, the responsible business owner, it is in fact a necessary accounting service.
*Looking back, I am pretty sure she gave me a good explanation for continuing to charge me for a service I felt I didn’t need, and I just literally didn’t understand: my annual filing was included in my monthly fee so if I wanted her to do my filing for that year she would keep charging me and providing the zeroes service, then file my year-end, then take me out of the system, all included in the monthly fees.