Female, Lawyer, Dutch...and Cheap

Bills - Gerla Brakkee

Dutch people are known for not necessarily the most charming characteristics. Rude has been mentioned. Loud. Inconsiderate. And, of course, cheap. Do not underestimate how these national handicaps affect one's daily life. 

For the last year, I have been a devout receipt collector, compiling a sustainable paper trail of potential professional expenses. Gas station? Receipt. Coffee? Receipt. Dress? Receipt. Beauty salon? Hey, why not, it's representation.

Yes, I am a lawyer. Yes, I am a woman. Worse, I am Dutch.

Every year when Spring arrives, my Dutch heart starts pounding with joy. It's time to file taxes. Questions like: "How to maximize return on investment?" or “I've already paid for it, now what can I get back from the government?” dominate my thoughts.

Here comes the handicap:

I have two options. Either, I accept a standard forfeiture percentage of my total income for deductible professional expenses per category, or I make an exhaustive list of all my receipts, confessing every detail of my life as a splurging, spending shopaholic. The latter, more masochistic approach, has another upside besides shock therapy - no threshold applies.

I could settle for the fixed amounts. But what if, only what if all the coffee corner receipts I have collected exceed the standard reimbursement rate for business lunch? That’s it. Yes indeed! I could lose money! No oh no! Must. Save. Money. My heart starts throbbing.

I try to remain calm and take a realistic decision. I know my friends are out celebrating the return of spring on a terrace. (“No, I won’t make it. I just have to finish up on something.” “I thought you were in between jobs?” “Well, ehm, finishing up takes a little more time than I had imagined.”)

This is hard. I could just start with calculations for a month. Would it be OK to add yet another Karen Millen receipt to the tax deductible pile? Would a Saturday night dinner be likely perceived as a client event? 

I wish I was a Desperate Housewife with my own expense account. Or, better yet, I wish I had my own accountant. But then again, that would cost me dearly...