How to avoid Tax Returns, and why do we do this?

Cold grey, dark grey, more grey. Even blue Monday was grey. Sometimes there is a blinding shaft of low winter sun, instantly lifting everything like a magic spell.

Grey day in January on Exminster Marshes

Today the light hit the apple tree. Yes. An excuse to get out and alter things. The apple tree needs pruning.

Apple tree needing pruning
How to prune an apple tree

Get some secateurs and attack the tree from all sides.  Remove all branches that are easy to get to, especially the ones that stop it being in the shape of a cup. Keep going until you get bored, cold, or tired.

Why prune an apple tree?

A well-pruned tree will produce more apples because the cup shape allows sunlight in. It is best done in January, because it is a good reason to delay doing your tax return.

What to do if the tree gets pruned too quickly?

Just open your eyes and more urgent jobs will appear.  Here are a few examples.

Pile of sticks

These sticks could do with re-organising. It is not OK to leave sticks in a messy pile.

Mess by the greenhouse

A nasty situation with assorted items, currently all in the wrong place.

Old carpets in the garden

Useful carpets need to be uncovered and folded up neatly.


Or you can do Yoga and remove yourself from the world where tax returns even exist. Leah, our teacher, encourages us to dismiss random thoughts because ‘most of them are lies’. She explains that the brain can be a barefaced liar and will get away with anything if you let it.   

Tax Return

But then you realise that the tax return deadline is near. Your brain has been going on about it for a year and was telling the truth for once.

It can go like this:

  • January 31st  Tax return is done.  Resolve to keep water-tight records FROM NOW ON and to file the next one in April.
  • April.  HMRC reminder letter arrives. Get organised and move to-do list from paper to tablet.  ‘File Tax Return’ goes at the top.
  • March to November. Decide the to-do list works better on a spreadsheet.  ‘File Tax Return’ is still there.
  • November. Resolve to get it done by Christmas. Re-write to-do list on paper as it is easier to see if it physically exists.
  • Christmas.
  • January 5th.  Sick feeling about tax return lurks. Make a new to-do list in a special notebook that can’t vanish in the same way as paper.
  • January 8th. Brain has the upper hand now and is going into overdrive with lies.

‘This is going to be read by somebody with police powers, you might not find your login details, some of the figures are going to have to be made up because some things went on conflicting spreadsheets, tax investigators can come into your house if they want’.

  • January 8th to 20th.  Address urgent problems of apple trees and everything else outside that looks like hell on earth.
  • January 21stish.  Login details work, despite PTSD from that time they didn’t. Website seems to think you are not a criminal.  Brain is busy now as it knows that you probably are.
  • Tick the easy boxes. No I am not part of a tax avoidance scheme. Who would tick that button anyway?  Is it a trick question?
  • Search for spreadsheets and receipts, realise the bank statements only cover half the year because bank went paperless. Start a fight with online banking about this and loose.
  • January 21st to 26th.  Decide that mental health is more important. Spend days looking after mental health, even do yoga.  Brain starts concocting all sorts of lies and won’t shut up.
  • January 27th. 8am  Sick feeling has won. An invisible army of tax inspectors have cameras all over the house and are using their police powers to look at the shameful drawer of half bank statements and missing receipts.  Interesting discussion with self about ‘what would they actually do?’ Log back in.
  • 11am. It’s done.  Hover over the ‘submit’ button in case you lied. Submit.
  • January 28th The evening is lightish, daffodils are up, all is well with the world. Resolve to organise records properly from now on and to do yoga at least three times a week.

Back to Yoga

The great thing about doing online yoga is that you can watch TV or read a book at the same time.  Just make sure that the bit of you on screen, is in the right pose. The teacher will never know. But if you go to Yoga with Leah you won’t want to.

Leah helps us to balance and get bendy. She also talks about putting our worries to one side, whilst acknowledging that this is a time like no other and that it is alright to feel overwhelmed. She uses kind words that can make you cry. But it’s nice crying, the sort that happens when somebody is telling you that everything is OK.

She gives out free quotes like this.

Worrying does not take away tomorrows troubles, it takes away today’s peace

Crab apples in winter

Met this crab apple tree on a walk this week. It is wild and free and has never been pruned. it seems to be doing OK.

8 thoughts on “How to avoid Tax Returns, and why do we do this?”

  1. This made me laugh so much. You have nailed ours, and a good many other lives at the moment. Our house has never been tidier. It seems any job is better to do than the dreaded tax. 230 days of bored lockdown, and still couldn’t manage it, and this week still all about the avoidance dance. There will be a very audible sigh on the 28th! Xxx

  2. can’t believe that people get in a state about tax returns and don’t keep everything organised and ready to go.

  3. I’ve enjoyed your very clever feminine and suttle humour, but alas, I’m going to refrain from looking from now on, it’s too upsetting … and this screen makes my eyes squint …

    But I’ll leave you with this question …

    Have you read the legend about Robert the Bruce and Rathlin Ireland ?

    Hang on a minute, didn’t I just say I wouldn’t be looking anymore ?

    How will I know if you read the Robert the Bruce / Rathlin Island story or not ?

    Adios Senorita

    P.S. You heard that song, it’s got … wait for it … Ooh La-La-La … in the lyrics ?

    1. I haven’t quite got to Robert the Bruce yet so you will have to keep reading the blog until the day I mention that I read it.x

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