For people who like to optimize and are expecting an income tax refund, we are now into income tax filing season. For those who will have to pay more, tax filing season won’t come until the end of April for Canadians and April 15th for Americans.
Ordinarily I prepare my taxes a little at a time until I finally receive the last slip I need and then e-file my return to get the refund as soon as possible. This year I decided to see how long it would take to complete the full task of filing my taxes. So, I didn’t do any advance work beyond storing slips and receipts in appropriate folders.
One day when I was satisfied that I had all the required information, I started working on the taxes for myself and my wife at 1:00 pm. This began with buying a copy of QuickTax online and installing it. My reason for using QuickTax is mostly momentum. I know how to use it, and haven’t seriously tried other options.
It’s amazing how some tasks always seem to take longer than they should. I didn’t complete our personal returns and e-file them until about 5:15 pm. Then I worked on my GST return for business income and drove to the bank to pay a small amount of GST owing. I got back at 7:00 pm which meant that the whole task took 6 hours.
Our returns are quite simple, and I can’t really justify why it took 6 hours, but it did. If we make the sweeping assumption that 6 hours is typical for roughly 10 million individuals or couples filing taxes in Canada, the total time devoted to filing taxes is about 7000 years, or nearly 100 lifetimes. I suppose the real figure could be anywhere from 10 to 1000 lifetimes, but no matter how you calculate it, that is a lot of time lost each year to our income tax system.