Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Annual report and tax time

It's now the season for two yearly financial experiences that are diametrically opposed from this point of view.

Annual reports are flowing through the front door mail slot daily. I love seeing them but not for the financials which can be found on a ton of websites with a few clicks. It's the CEO's letter that is always worth a skim, and worth more if it actually seems like it was written by the CEO(not that common) and not his staff or a consulting firm, and worth even more if the CEO is really smart. Most just pass the three to five minute skim test and that's it but there's information in that as well. Then my favorite aspect is the design of the report and the photographs. As one under the illusion that much can be intuited from this in a few cases, I can recall the Wachovia annual report two or three years ago that had only one photograph and that was a full page studio head shot of Kennedy Thompson, the CEO. Sold that stock and he was gone before the year was out and the company didn't last much longer. This annual report reviewing is not too time consuming in most cases and it can be entertaining believe it or not.

Tax time is something that I never enjoy. There are some people who actually like the experience of putting the numbers together, making the puzzle work, and arriving at a sure solution. My father was one of them and, of course, he was an accountant, a gene that did not pass down. The tedium of pulling all of the paperwork together and staying organized is bad enough but what really gets me is that many aspects of the instructions make no sense. I like to think, but following tax return instructions just requires blind faith. A simpler tax return is one of those issues that so obviously should be on some legislative agenda but that is not in the government's or the politician's interests. Do I do this rant annually or just every other year.

Probably annually.


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