Saturday, September 20, 2008

. . . experienced some panic

There is some significance to the picture for today's post. It's a picture of a screw. I'm going to write about the IRS. Do I need to point out the obvious? I think not.

Anyway, in my increasingly lackadaisical manner, I only pick up my mail about once a week any more. Even when the mailbox is stuffed past full, when I weed out the credit card offers and other junk mail, I usually end up with just a couple of items that actually need my attention. And since I only open mail twice a month to pay bills, a lot of times things just kind of lay on my desk for a while before anything happens.

But not yesterday. I pick up the usual armload of junk and head to the house to sort through it, stopping on the way to toss a bunch of stuff in the dumpster in the garage. I get to the bottom of the stack and there it is. . . a letter from the IRS. My heartbeat goes off the Richter Scale. . . my stomach drops to my feet and then shoots back up, threatening to empty its contents directly onto the floor of the garage. Beads of sweat break out on my forehead. What does the IRS want? What have I done wrong? What year have they chosen to audit? Where are all my past tax files? (One year is completely illegible, because it got wet once when the basement flooded and a frog died underneath pages 1, 2, and 3, but that's another story.)

Then, trying to think rationally, I begin to remember how easy it is to do our tax returns. I don't hire an accountant; after all, I used to do tax returns myself at work that were a hell of a lot more difficult that my own. Everything we have to report in the way of income is verified by a W-2 or a 1099 or a K-1; everything we get to deduct is also verified in some acceptable way. Plug in the numbers on TurboTax, hit calculate, and pray that the result isn't hideous (that's one of those unanswered prayers, by the way.) Then I send it on its way through the marvels of online filing, wait for the email to show up that says it's accepted, and boom, I'm done. Takes a couple of hours, at the most, and that includes trying to find and/or remember my screen name and password for TurboTax.

So, having calmed down some, I open the dreaded IRS envelope. There is a completely unnecessary relative blank page on top. . . then a form. . . then a short little letter saying, oops, you forgot to sign this form allowing you to file your return online. Please go look up your tax return for last year, fill in a couple of numbers, sign the form and send it back to us. Please use your own $0.42 cent stamp to return it. And by the way, send back the bottom part of that unnecessary mostly blank piece of paper, too. And, oh by the way, sorry for any inconvenience.

Of course, I'm so relieved that this is just a minor glitch. I sign it immediately, have my husband sign it the minute he gets home, look up the numbers, stuff the envelope, stick on a stamp, and take it to the mailbox. Back to the IRS in less than 24 hours. I want it out of the house. And, oh, by the way, IRS, don't worry about the minor inconvenience, the heart attack, the nausea, the panic attack. Don't give it a second thought. In fact, don't even think about us at all. Ignore us. WE are sorry for the inconvenience. Salame, salame, baloney.


Martha Marshall said...

Oh my gosh Mary, your IRS procedure is exactly like ours, so I can empathize with that little anxiety attack. Even though I know our stuff is very straightforward and uncomplicated, and done on TurboTax, I'd still hate that dreaded audit word.

Mary Buek said...

Something about the letters "IRS" evokes fear even in the hearts of the innocent. LIKE ME, for all those IRS agents out there reading this blog.