Death and Taxes

After my previous post Death vs Taxes, in which I outlined the ongoing saga of my tax disaster, there have been some improvements in the whole thing. However sadly there has also been some death, so I thought I would write about both here.


Sadly my stepmother, who has been battling small-cell lung cancer for the last 2 years, passed away a couple of weeks ago.

She had been undergoing treatment for many months, and after a nasty bout of pneumonia, was hospitalised. My dad told us in mid-June that she was unlikely to come home again from the hospital, and that she most likely only had a few days left rather than weeks.

As my employer are thankfully very flexible, I was able to fly over to Australia to support my dad and help out in planning the funeral arrangements etc, which is where I have been for the last month. Although it was mostly very sad, I’m glad I was able to help out and be there for my dad, and I learnt an awful lot about death admin, which is extremely complicated!

We figured out the complexities of cremation and interring vs scattering ashes, and plaques vs niches and so on. We learned that you need special paperwork if you intend to transport ashes overseas, and that it’s very hard to plan catering for a wake as people don’t generally RSVP and therefore you have no idea how many canapes to plan for…

I also learned that people want to share their grief and often others need comforting more than you do (I got cried on by people I don’t know more than once, which was occasionally awkward), and that people send flowers as a nice gesture of sympathy and support, but it can be overwhelming when you’ve got 15 large arrangements in the house. First of all because white lilies tend to be the flower of choice for death, and lilies are extremely poisonous to cats, so I had to carefully cut out the stamens of each lily as it opened in order to make sure dad’s cat Osca didn’t die too. Secondly because, while I love the smell of a freshly-cut bunch of flowers, 15 large bunches can make a room smell rather sickly and overwhelming, so it quickly became a challenge to cope with the stench of too many lilies – a smell I will now probably always associate with death.


So, although I was in Australia for sad reasons, I still managed to have a few nice weekends hanging out with some friends in Melbourne and my brother in Leura, Blue Mountains, and a few other good things happened too.

First of all, I won the lottery TWICE during the month I was over there! Very exciting and even more build-up when I got the email saying “We have some news about your ticket” but I wasn’t able to check it as I was overseas. Sadly the build-up was far more exciting than the actual win (my first one was £2.60 and my second win was for £2.40), however I enjoyed spending a few days wondering if I was a millionaire. 🙂

However, shortly after my £2.60 winnings landed in my bank account, another, much more exciting thing landed in my bank account – namely my tax rebate!!!

After 13 months, 5 tax returns, and a the help of a very patient accountant, I got all my money back, and had a very exciting £9,350 land in my account (amusingly it came in right after my £2.60 lottery winnings…). In fairness I had to give £5,350 back to my employer, and £2,000 of it was a refund for the tax I overpaid back in January, but nevertheless my tax nightmare is finally over!!!

So that was a very nice surprise!

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