On the weekends, my wife and I enjoy doing home improvement projects. Nothing that requires permits, hard hats, or would otherwise be foolish to do after I’ve enjoyed a beer or two. Just some mild sprucing up here and there.
The only problem with this weekend hobby was that I didn’t have a proper vehicle for hauling materials. I tried putting plastic down in the trunk of my Rolls-Royce, but it didn’t work very well.
(Just kidding, I don’t drive a Rolls-Royce. I have a very modest Ferrari that gets me from point A to B.)
To do this right, I needed a pickup truck. In case you weren’t aware, new pickup trucks are ridiculously expensive. That wasn’t an option! Instead, I literally spent years combing through eBay, Craigslist, and Auto Trader looking for a solid used pickup.
Remember the old saying, “Good things come to those who wait”?
After my extensive search, I stumbled upon an Officer in the Air Force who was moving and didn’t want to take his truck with him. The listing said he lived in my town and the pictures looked awesome. The only hitch was that there was no asking price.
When I got there, the truck looked just like it did in the pictures (spotless). We talked for a bit, and he wanted me to take it for a spin. Guess what, it ran as good as it looked. Based on my research, I was thinking the truck was worth about $7,500 (way over my budget!).
When we got back to his house, he said, “Look, I like you and it seems like you really like my truck. That’s important to me because I want it to go to someone who will take good care of it. Will you give me $2,500?”
You probably know how that story ended! I’ve owned that truck for three and a half years now. Good things DO come to those who wait.
Now, does that rule also apply to sales tax? My friend (let’s call him Pete the Procrastinator) would disagree completely.
Pete started is own business a few years ago and asked for my help with his first sales tax return. As the 20th of the month rolled around, I called him bright and early in the morning to see if he was FINALLY ready to do his return. His answer was, “Yeah, let’s do it this afternoon.”
We finally got to doing the return at around 3:00. We had the data compiled, so we logged on to Virginia’s website to complete the return.
“Server Error – Try Again Later.”
We waited patiently for an hour before Pete started to panic. I called one of my contacts at the Virginia Department of Taxation and he said the server was toasted and wasn’t going to be up until the next day.
Pete was officially in freak-out mode at this point. (In hindsight, I feel bad about joking with him at the time by saying he was probably going to be thrown in jail that next day.)
Without a functioning website, we had less than an hour to crank out a paper return and get it postmarked. You guessed it; we made it in time and everything was cool.
Wait a second! What about this whole notion of good things coming to whose who wait? It sounds like that didn’t happen here!
By waiting, Pete learned a tremendously valuable lesson (don’t procrastinate on your taxes!). The stress of the whole ordeal wasn’t exactly pleasant for Pete, but the lesson he learned was worth it in my opinion.
P.S. – Pete has filed his sales tax returns before the deadline every month since then (or at least that’s what he tells me!).