Sunday, April 13, 2008

IRS Funnies

Needless to say, the past few days have been a mix of pathos, slit-your-wrist depression, amazement, and environmental apologies. It's tax time.

Sitting on my kitchen table are eight large manila envelopes containing enough paper to denude Oregon. Of the eight, six are fairly straight forward federal and state income tax returns. Two however could form the heart of a sitcom script. They are mine.

In the past, I would have had my tax forms filled out and mailed long ago. That was before my life became interesting. Now, I am a slave to other peoples work schedules and must wait for a few specific forms to come in before my taxes can be calculated. And since my life has become so interesting, I have given the job of calculating my taxes over to a highly regarded CPA who is a partner in a well respected firm hereabouts.

With that in mind, you will appreciate the rising tide of anxiety which was beginning to consume me last week as I awaited a call, fax, or email from the remaining entity that needed to send me (or previously introduced CPA), the last form needed to calculate this years donation to our efforts overseas (or if you cut out the middlemen - Dick Cheney).

Eureka, I shouted when the news came in that the precious information had been faxed to my accountant late Wednesday night. Shortly afterward (she works insane hours this time of year), my accountant emailed me that the numbers had been received and sent me an attachment with a PDF of the tax return for my review.

Due to other demands on my time, I didn't have a chance to look at the numbers until Thursday afternoon at which time (after picking myself up off the floor) I decided to either commit ritual hari-kari, or leave immediately for some far away land, sending for my children (maybe) at a later time. In short, my tax return informed me that I owed the US government more than GM has paid in the last twenty years. There was only one thing to do - mass consumption.

So, there I was on Friday, feeling a little owly, when I got in the car and headed into the big city to pick up the tax packet from the accountant and then proceeded to the bank to close out a savings account in anticipation of handing it over in its entirety to Uncle Sam so "he" could promote democracy around the world. Upon returning home I sat down to review this set of papers that ensured my future paupacy. I began to slowly go through them with the type of fascination one might see in a condemned man who decided to read his court records in the remaining hours of his life on this earth.

On the off chance that someone at the accountant's office had perhaps made a minor error in what my filing status might be, I sent off a halfhearted email detailing my question, framed as if I was a clueless idiot that needed a little gentle reassurance on the finer points of tax law.

While waiting for the response to my query, I continued with my inspection of my fiduciary death sentence and came upon another area that looked a little questionable. Knowing that my humble CPA was a bit over extended at this time of year, I gently composed a second email that questioned the result of the bottom line on the Schedule A form contained in the packet.

Now, I'll have to admit that when it comes to forms full of legalize and endless lists of numbers, I have a hard time paying attention. This stuff is like a narcotic for me, and I don't mean the fun type. I mean that my eyes glaze over, I loose focus and it is like I enter a hypnotic state that is like being wrapped in mental cotton candy. I am hopeless when it comes to legal forms. So going through the whole review of the tax process was like going through some slow, and not quite fatal, torture process.

Therefore, I found myself in a sort of trance, starring at the blurred tax documents stacked in front of me when I became aware of a niggling question that was forming somewhere in the recesses of my mind. Something was calling me from far away. "Look at the numbers" it was saying. "No, go away" I responded, but it was no use. The numbers stayed there in their neat little rows and columns. But wait - there were too many entries.

To make a long story short, it took me a while, but I finally decided that somehow my income had been entered twice in slightly different amounts and with different names for the source. That formed the essence of my third email to my accountant inside of thirty minutes. The result was that I went to owing something akin to a third world county's gross national profit, to getting a small but MEANINGFUL refund. It was at that point I tore off all my clothes and ran around the neighborhood shouting like a mad man. My children are in the process of sending me to a distant foreign land and coming to visit me later (maybe).


Blogger Kristie said...

Maybe it was C nudging you. She was your legalese translator, no?

I'm glad you found the error and a refund to boot. We sent a good chuck of change to the Feds this year, and paid a penalty for having the audacity not to let them have the money all year long instead of giving it to them now. Grrr.

11:00 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger lime said...

i think your accountant also owes you a refund of whatever fees she was expecting you to pay her. crimony! that's a HUGE mistake!

6:42 AM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger Cheesy said...

I'm with lime! You in de-nude is better than my lovely Oregon in denude!

10:26 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger KAS said...

Yikes.. There's a big difference between owing taxes and getting them. I'm with lime, too..

Tax time always strikes me as such a joke. I'm positive there's an easier way to go about this, as even the most organized person in the world who keeps every pertinent financial document they've ever had goes into a panic this time of year. Of course, since it's a government establishment, the only possible way to go about it is by making us all gag as the days tick down to April 15th. Luckily, we had our taxes done in January or February, so any panicking we could have been doing today has been quelled. Thank God, too.

Hope you got everything worked out just right. Damn those numbers.

9:25 AM, April 15, 2008  

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