Monday, April 04, 2005

Birth and Taxes

I spent the weekend working on our taxes. It’s almost enough to make me quit doulaing. I grossed $3,900 for my doula work last year and spent about six hours calculating the taxes I owe on it!

Not that I object to taxes. It’s just frustrating to have the bulk of our household income be so quick to put through the tax formulas and the small fraction that is doula work to take so long. All for $400 in self-employment tax and half that as a credit (or deduction).

I would prefer to pay a flat rate than to calculate the depreciation of our computer, the total miles driven (adding up those 4 mile round trips to the hospital or the grocery story), the sum of the receipts for disposable food storage containers, chapsticks, and other “supplies” for the business.

On the plus side, I was able to get something of a profile of my doula business as a byproduct of my slicing and dicing for taxes. For example I learned that on average I have five home visits with clients, rather than the minimum four I lay out in my contract. I learned that although half my clients were within walking distance (generously defined) of my home, I put nearly 500 miles on our car in the process of doing doula work (which confirms my instinct to stick to clients closer to home if possible).

What is not reflected is the total number of hours I devote, consciously or not, to this work. Even if I know a birth lasted 13 hours and the pre- and post-natal appointments totaled eight hours, I tend to overlook the phone calls and e-mails, the digging through books or on-line to help clients find information, the shopping, preparation and cooking time for meals, and the hours lying awake in anticipation or aftermath of a birth.

Those moments slip by in small, unremarkable increments, but are what ultimately take their toll on my family. Last night I felt myself catching a cold, so I thawed out some broth and started making soup. My older son walked through the kitchen, did a double take, and then said in a taunting, sing-song voice, “Oh, are you making more soup for another doula client?”

Thankfully I’m not taxed for that time. But then, I’m not paid for it either.


Blogger Julie said...

In a whiny tone:

Douli-i-i-ica, how come you haven't visited my blog in such a long ti-i-me? I've mentioned you by name in two posts in a row and you haven't commented yet. And we didn't get to have brunch, e-e-e-either! Where a-a-a-re you???

Normal tone:

We had the same problem when Steve was getting paid to do maintenance work on Marshall Court. Never mind the fact that any court (I'm convinced) would have found him an employee, not an independent contractor. It was just not worth the effort at tax time. All my sympathy!

Back to whining:

Ple-e-e-ase don't be too sick for book group tomorrow!

6:40 PM  
Blogger KarbonKountyMoos said...

Hi - I followed you from Guusje's! We farm, and ag taxes are due on March 1st. So ours are over & done. But if you want depressing - how about having to borrow money every year to pay your taxes?

2:15 PM  
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