Late last week, I received an email reminder from our accountant about January sales tax. She usually sends over a brief note before she sucks out an ungodly amount of money from our account to be sent to the Missouri Department of Revenue. She's nice that way. Except the email seemed unusually early this month and when I responded to say that it was only the 12th of February and how could we possibly be having this conversation already...she responded that the due date is early this month.
Because I needed something terribly depressing to distract me from my 40th birthday, I decided to spend some time on the Missouri Department of Revenue's website to get the lowdown on the different sales tax withholding due dates. And BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...I couldn't even figure it out (which is great for self-esteem around a significant birthday, I might add).
In credit to DOR, they have a PDF calendar that comes up and allows you to look at the different dates things are due. I have several observations: 1) whomever decided to add the heart to Valentine's Day, I give you two points for bringing a sweet touch of humanity to a faceless agency; 2) I never want to have any business to do with cigarettes, other tobacco products, batteries, or tires...the filings due for those items alone almost covered the entire monthly calendar; and 3) I thought I figured out the day I was looking for..."the quarter/monthly withholding and sales tax payment due" on the 19th, EXCEPT the box for the 25th said the exact same thing. So I get to pick which day? Or what?
And I'm not just being facetious about this very serious topic. I have good friends who pay the sales tax for their own business or the business they work with and they seem to navigate the calendar quite well. I'm just saying that I don't get it AT ALL. And quite honestly, this side of entrepreneurship isn't one that I ever really considered...most likely because there is nothing remotely interesting, sexy, or fun about it. Until you don't pay it and then you are in a federal prison like Real Housewives of New Jersey's Teresa Guidice...that is sort of interesting, actually. As long as it happens to someone else.
We've been open for almost 10 months now and I would wager that our sales tax hasn't been due on the same day of the month even once. I just looked at the March calendar and the "quarter/monthly withholding and sales tax payment due" shows up on the 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th. I would be willing to bet cold hard cash that the defense to a late payment fine of "I thought I could pick any of those days I wanted" would NOT hold up in court. If the accountant emails me and says our day is the 4th, I'm just going to scream.
I suspect my problem is two-fold...one, I don't care for taxes because they are pricey and inconvenient. Without making any political affiliation statements, I would be all for a flat-tax simply because I support any sort of year-end math that can be done on my iPhone calculator. And if I can write it in on a twee little postcard, all the better. Secondly, I would suspect the legislative committees that draft the regulations that eventually land on the calendar are motivated in part by an already restrictive tax code and a lot of pressure for the state to have a mass influx of income on a certain day of each month. Or maybe everyone on the committee just wanted to get on the road home on the last Friday of the session and so they just threw darts at a calendar and went with it. Either way.
I have zero recommendations after this rant...but to say "God Bless Accountants" or simply suggest we throw anyway the tax code, get out some fresh pencils, and start over but wear our common sense hats this time. And let's face it, the former would probably be the easiest, right?