Friday, June 13, 2008
My really Big Mistake
I recently received an envelope in the mail with "advertisement inside" printed across its face. There was a generic corporate name that could have been anything from a novelty importer to a custom imprint company. It was an oversize manila envelope with a lump in the middle, so against my better judgement I "killed the cat". Inside I found a large rubber eraser, similar to the one in the picture, I would have taken my own stupid picture, but somebody decided they needed my $600 camera more than I did, so they took it! Anyway, it was not,as you might expect from some purveyor of theatrical props (directing for the stage being my chosen profession) or a novelty printer hawking his wares, it was from an attorney!
So, here's the back story. About six months ago the friendly people down at the internal revenue service sent me a little note. The note was sent to inform me that I had not paid a portion of my taxes for the last year and they would be happy to alleviate me of the responsibility of owning anything if I did not comply and give them their money right away. I immediately disregarded the legitimacy of such a claim because my tax preparer doesn't make mistakes of this magnitude...ever. Of course she is my mother-in-law so maybe I'm partial. (yet another of the reasons I am one of the weirdest people you'll ever meet I actually like my mother-in-law)
Turns out that we had indeed sent them a check for this particular portion that totaled up to 2200 and change. They, with brilliance and skill, processed and cashed the sucker for ten percent of that, a whopping 220 bucks. Now, my less than stellar book keeping skills were fuddled by a fiasco having to do with a rubber check (someone wrote me one, not the other way around) which totally screwed up my accounts, what with overdraft fees, returned check fees, debit card penalties, refunded debit card penalties, overdraft and returned check fees, and when the dust settled I started with a clean slate. In the madness no one caught the snafu on the IRS check going through for a tenth of its face value (gotta love computers).
So, now they estimated that my $1900+ balance had grown to a whopping $3600! (yeah I know you wish you could get them to run your 401k with that kind of return, huh?)In less than eight months my debt, which remember, I thought, honestly, was paid, had nearly doubled! They gave us thirty days to pay or face garnishment, then promptly filed a tax lien in less than a week! (don't tell me the government can't move on things quickly!)
I wanted to fight it so bad, after all it was their mistake not mine, but as it turns out the presumption of innocence does not extend from the government to us, only the reverse. You can of course appeal their decision. There are two routes you can take.
(Okay, if there are any attorneys reading this please forgive my ignorance but this is my basic understanding of my options, )
A: I can appeal to the IRS directly, first I must pay them whatever they think I owe, which they hold until a panel of IRS appointed arbitrators can decide if there was any legitimacy to my claim. If they decide I owe what they said I owe, they can then assess damages against me for waisting there time. (doing there job?) If they decide I am right they will return the money I do not owe minus the cost of the hearing.Oh yeah and if I let the IRS decide I also waive the right to sue them in court if I don't like the outcome!!
B: I can sue, first I pay the taxes and they hold onto that until I pay an attorney out of my pocket to argue the case, and take at least forty percent of the winnings, if I win! So, after so heated negotiations we got them down to $2500, still almost a third more than the legitimate debt, and gave them a check.
So now I go to my mailbox and find that some brilliantly over educated idiot has spent his hard earned advertising dollars on giant rubber erasers to insult me with epithets regarding the condition of my life if I do not avail my self of his services! Can you imagine how proud his parents must be after eating spagghetti o's for four years to send this neanderthal to law school that the best he can do is skulk around courthouses going over tax liens and stuffing envelopes with over sized school supplies? I could go on all day but I will not waist anymore of my valuable time on this colossal moron!
So, now I have this huge eraser printed with "for really big mistakes" on one side, and this stupid thing is reminding me of one of the biggest mistakes in my life, the one the IRS made, so I hate this eraser. It is sitting in my rehearsal studio on my piano mocking me, and I have finally decided its fate. Tonight when I go back to the theatre to set up for our latest performance I am going to give that eraser true power to change my life, No I cannot turn it into a device that will erase any evidence that the IRS ever existed, but I can right one word on the reverse side in black magic marker that will make sense of all of this nonsense. "Jesus"