It’s February 14th, and like many Americans, one thought weighs heavily on my mind today. The pink and red hearts adorning grocery store end caps are a stark reminder of what February is about. The cute little boxes of candy with 20 classmate cards and the large heart-shaped boxes of chocolates that beg to be placed in my cart can only mean one thing: time to start my tax return.
Yes, it’s already the middle of February and the stack of “tax stuff” piled on my printer can only be ignored for so long (62 more days, to be exact.) But I don’t want to wait until the night before and then deal with the rush at the post office. It’s worse than an after-Thanksgiving sale at Wal Mart….you fight the crowds and you don’t even have a chance to pick up a flat screen TV for $100.
Until last year, I was just a number to the IRS. I would send my love via e-file without any kind of response. The relationship resembled that of me and my junior high crush, Kirk. No matter how many times I rode my bike past his house, he never waved. Only this time, I was okay with the one-sided relationship. Really, I was.
I guess it was inevitable that a slim and trim household income like ours, would garner attention. Not adorned in bogus deductions or inflated donations, our modest means don’t draw envious stares from our neighbors. Yet, last fall, our numbers caught the eye of none other than the IRS. Instead of blushing like Cinderella at the Prince’s ball, I cried like I just received, well, a letter from the IRS.
I called the phone number on the letter and found I wasn’t that special after all. The eleven minute wait confirmed what I already suspected: the IRS gets around. The woman on the line explained the $1,600 in additional taxes/penalties/interest stemmed from over six grand of unreported income, from my HSA used for medical expenses.
“B-but it was supposed to be tax free,” I explained. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I swear.”
“All you need to do is fill out a Form 8889 and fax it back to us.”
“I have it right here,” I said, holding the printed tax return produced from my tax prep software, which I also used to e-file the return.
“We don’t have one in your file.”
A file. That sounded stalker-like to me, but I reminded myself that the IRS wasn’t just any suitor. They could decide if my life would have misery or bliss. When given a choice, I always go for “bliss”, so after hanging up the phone, I decided to fax that form in immediately. Twenty-seven tries, and nearly an hour later, my fax finally went through. I ignored yet another sign of the IRS’ polygamous ways. I had heard of its gold-digging reputation, but I just knew, with me, it would be different. I could change things.
Over the last several months, I received several love letters. The revised tax notice gave us the amount we would owe if paid by a certain date. Funny thing is, they forgot to send us the bill until several days after that date. Sometimes, important dates can slip by, even in new relationships, right?
In case you’re wondering why we owed money since we sent in the missing form, we forgot to include the prior year’s stat tax refund on our federal return. With penalties and interest, the IRS sweet-talked us out of about $30.
Since the IRS showed such interest in us, I thought perhaps I could get the inside track on how they are able to get a 4% interest rate on money owed to them. You see, my savings account has earned a .01% interest rate for the last three years. I wanted to know if there was any way to invest my money in their accounts, being that we’ve been in a relationship corresponding for several months now.
It seems I am anonymous again.
I thought our relationship meant more than that. I’m beginning to think the IRS only wanted me for my money. They didn’t get $1,600, but they did get some of my money. Maybe they’re mad because they didn’t meet quota and had to cancel the department Caribbean cruise?