hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


March 28, 2012

Poor Tom's Almanac: Sweating out another IRS season

I measure out my life by five seasons. We have the usual four. Add another. A season to file my tax returns and sweat out the protocol.

I'm a complete ninny when it comes to forms. My CPA has been my best friend for as long as I've dealt with the IRS. Could be that I don't trust myself with all that rigmarole. A better reason is that he might take the hit if something runs afoul.

Two years ago, I got the letter no one wants to receive. It came from the IRS, informing me that I owned $900. Wait a minute here! Didn't I just send them a check?

So I called my accountant. I'm at an impasse and so is he. Go to the bank. See if the check has been cashed. Get a copy of the receipt. Mail that as proof.

"But keep in mind that it might take weeks before they respond," he cautioned. "They may be light years behind in their paperwork."

If that's the case, how come they responded so quickly over what they believed was a delinquent payment?

Yes, the check had been received. And yes, it had been cashed. I sent in the receipt and never heard another thing. But they did give me the shakes for a bit.

Another time, I received a letter from the IRS and guess what? Inside was a check with a letter telling me that I had overpaid when I thought I was being audited. Not that I had anything to hide. But the more I've dealt with the government, the better I've come to realize they tax your brains more than they tax your income.

A lot of this grief has to do with my conscience. How much do I deduct for charity? What should I include on the medical side? Prescriptions? An eye exam? A dental cleaning?

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