Papendick: It’s a taxing time for farmers, and tax preparers

John Papendick

By John Papendick Aberdeen

My life would be so much easier if I would listen to myself.

Since starting my own business three years ago, my income has come from a wide variety of sources. Little did I know so many opportunities were out there. Yes, I am realigned/retired, but I still have some words to share.

So the work continues. Just at a slower pace — my pace.

Each year at about this time, I say to myself that I need to do a better job of record-keeping for my taxes.

When I was working, all I had to do was to collect those envelopes stamped “Important Tax Documents” that come in the mail at this time of year. Collect them, put them in one large manila envelope and drop them off at our tax person.

Then wait, sign, pay in or get a return.

Now it is a little more complicated.

I have all my 2017 records, but they are all over the place. A notebook here, sticky notes there and receipts everywhere.

All it would take is a little organization and effort throughout the year to simplify what is now a complex process at the end of the year. In fact, I am on that organized path this year, but we’ll see if I stayed on course at the end of 2018.

But for now, I have to straighten out the mess I made in 2017.

Farmers, meanwhile, always tell me they are dealing with three seasons: planting, harvest and taxes.

While most of us must file our taxes by April 16, farmers and ranchers have a tax deadline of March 1.

Just like the other two seasons, many farmers keep a team of people busy during tax season.

That feeling of being overwhelmed by taxes that I have is minor compared to the complexity of taxes for farmers and ranchers.

Plus, it is important for farmers and ranchers to keep detailed records because it allows them the ability to monitor the progress of what has become million-dollar operations for some.

“Keeping accurate records allow producers to monitor the progress of their business, and show whether it is improving, which items are profitable, and what may need to change,” Shannon Sand explained in a recent news release. She is the South Dakota State University extension livestock business management field specialist.

In other words, good records help producers make good decisions. And with dollars and margins tight, good decisions lead to more fun on the farm.

Finally, a shoutout to those people who help so many of us with our taxes. Your coffee bills must be outrageous at this time of year.

Your days are filled with late nights/early mornings, answering crazy questions and customers who think you have some kind of magic dust to sprinkle over their taxes to make everything turn out OK in the watchful eyes of the IRS.

Thank you tax preparers for your help, patience and understanding.

Long-time South Dakota journalist John Papendick is a freelance writer, public speaker and seeker of new life experiences. Email [email protected]