God Bless the IRS...
Today I had one more bit of a reminder that I am indeed American. As the smoke settled from the Fourth of July fireworks, and delinquent workers who took a few extra day of vacation returned, we all settled down for the end of yet another patriotic celebration and began to get down to business.
So did Uncle Sam.
In fact, Uncle Sam must have been busy working even before the Fourth of July. There it was in my mailbox. The dreaded official looking envelope with the hateful return address, "Internal Revenue Service."
What could this be, I wondered? A thank you letter from my Uncle Sam? No, he doesnít send thank you notes for paying what is perceived as due him.
He doesnít send love notes either.
He DOES send party invitations Ė only he calls them "tax audits."
With trembling hands I picked up the envelope. Oh, God! Iím being audited! I instantly felt a sense of dread. I hate dealing with all that financial stuff anyhow. Iím creative, not detail oriented.
I thought I had sorted all the deductions and credits and shuffled my official papers for the last time this year. I carried my brown envelope of receipts faithfully to my tax accountant, unable to deal with the torture of filling out a return myself.
I brainwashed myself into believing that "CPA" after the tax preparerís signature was insurance to keep the auditors away, similar to the way the cross is protection from Dracula. So much for that fallacy.
I coughed up my tax dollars, sent in my neatly prepared return and filed away my receipts in the legal folder way back in April. So what now? Visions of hungry auditors danced in my head like sugarplum demons. I made my payments Ė on time. What did they want? Blood?
I rushed to the files where I keep important papers, head spinning. I must have made a terrible error some place. I thought I had been carefulÖ I meant to be carefulÖ what if I hadnít been careful?
I recall the time years ago, in desperation for a job, I went to interview with the IRS. No joking around there. By the time I got out, I felt like Iíd been audited, though Iíd actually only been interviewed. I must have flunked miserably because I didnít get the job, or even a second interview. Thank goodness it was a job and not an audit. Iíd probably still be paying.
In my limited circle of acquaintances, the people who seem to get in the most trouble tax wise are those that are self-employed or try to run their own small business, make a few bucks, and donít have the expertise or inclination to keep up with things adequately. It all goes okay for a while, then one day the IRS catches up with them.
By then they are thousands in the hole, the business has gone under from poor management, and they are broke. They cut a deal for payments and end up paying every month for the rest of their natural life.
I couldnít be thousands behind. No way. Iíve even hired an accountant. Iím a good American. I pay my taxes. God bless the USA. Whereís the flag?
So what is this danged envelope doing on my table?
Okay, Iíll open it. Hum, doesnít mention anything about an audit. Five pages long, very impressive. None of it makes much sense, though. Sounds legal. They must send the same word processor letter to all of us tax evadersÖ erÖ citizensÖ whether it applies to our particular case or not. They just fill in the different figures from individual returns.
"We have refigured your taxes."
Delightful and what possessed them to do that?
"You claimed an incorrect amount as credits."
"You owe $146.92 as shown in your tax statement below"
Iím so happy it isnít an audit, I practically kiss the envelope and canít wait to send the $146.92 (including penalty) and get them off my back. Never mind that I canít figure out what I did wrong.
"If you think we made a mistake, please call us," it says.
Oh, right! Iím gonna argue with the IRS and get audited every year for the rest of my life. Funny thing, though, the money they say I owe was from the rare time that I ever actually received a refund. It was suppose to be applied to 1999. It says so right there on line 67. I just donít get it.
I stew for a while, and finally decide Iím paying an expert. If the CPA canít protect me from Dracula, maybe she can at least explain the bite marks. So, a desperate FAX and a phone call later, and guess what? She doesnít get it either.
"Donít pay yet," she advises.
Easy for her to say. Iím the one going to jail.
"Give me your power of attorney. Iíll call them."
SoÖ here I am in a dilemma. Do I pay money I donít think I owe? Do I argue? Do I hope it can be settled amicably? Do I dig in my heels and fight? Is my sanity worth more than $147?
God bless America. I love the USA!
Copyright 2000 Sheila Moss