Every year I’ve despised doing my taxes.
That doesn’t make me unique by a long shot. Doing taxes sucks balls, and for a freelancer it’s particularly laborious (because no one really does it as they go, do they?)
I’ll be tardy, I’ll be petulant and I’ll drag that chain until the very last second and I’ll get onto it begrudging every second spent doing expenses and income and tallying those figures in columns until my eyes are crossed.
Not so this year, because this year my tax return means something entirely different.
When my marriage ended I’d been a stay at home mum for 5 years, and had earned no money of my own in that time. The mortgage was paid by my husband out of his wages that he earned at his job.
My lawyer argued that I worked in the home and that the money is ours and the house is ours and all of that, which is how a court sees it….but still, after no tax returns for 5 years, on paper I don’t look like a very financially viable option to take over a mortgage after a separation.
I dressed nicely, shit, I think I even dusted off the iron and IRONED CREASES OUT and on a rainy morning when the kids were at kindy I went and sat in the manager’s office of the bank I’ve been banking with since I started my first account at 8 years old.
I thought that if I just explained my situation they’d understand.
He was a gently spoken Indian guy with kind eyes, who wanted to help, but banks are not renowned for kindnesses bestowed upon the heartbroken and desperate.
I tried a few different financial institutions, all the same. I was starting a new career as a freelancer sand I had no financial record.
No money, no honey.
Without delving into the very personal ins and outs of our financial settlement, I will say that with the help of my dad, and a mortgage restructure I’ve been able to keep the home that I and the children love… but still, the mortgage is in joint names. Which means it can be taken away from me, or if I die it goes to someone who has has sold their portion of the house to me.
This year, my tax return, was going to prove to the banks that I am financially viable. That I can take it over entirely in my name and own my home independently.
I’ve worked my chops off this year, I don’t think I could have juggled one more ball or chainsaw but as I sit here doing my taxes super responsibly, 6 weeks early, in anticipation of my triumph I’m realising that the figures aren’t adding up to enough.
The banks don’t care how hard I work, or that I rendered my own front wall wearing a green scarf, or dug the garden with until my nails were filled with mud. They care about the cold hard figures on the paper, and unless I pull a miracle out of my butthole I just don’t think it’s going to happen.
I’m not going to lose my home, or anything dramatic. I know I’m incredibly fortunate to be in this situation.
I get that the concept of owning your own home is a distant dream for many, and many are slaving away to pay the banks with whom they’ll be in bed for the next 30 years all for the ideal of owning your own castle.
That’s all I wanted.
My castle to be mine, shared pleasantly with the bank until kingdom come, however I’m sitting here feeling deflated as I gradually punch those stupid number keys harder and harder in my frustration as I realise that maybe that dream won’t be mine this year.
That same bank manager called me a few months later to see how I was going. I don’t think he was fishing for business but he actually gave a shit. I told him I found a Band Aid solution that would buy me time until I had a strong year of work behind me, and that I was working my tush off to make that tax return sing.
Maybe July 2016 I’ll be able to sit back in that office of his and give him a good story to tell his kids one day.
A story about tenacity, and resilience, and someone who achieved independence even though the system worked against her.
Yeah, maybe next year.
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