Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grumpy's Tax Odyssey

In June of 2007, I had just finished one of the toughest years of my life. I'd spent ten months providing in-class support and after-school programs for an inner-city school, and while the experience was worth-while I'm fairly sure that it took 4-7 years off my life. But I'd made it, and in return the organization I worked for gave me almost $5000 to put towards my college loans. Pretty sweet, right? Surely there is no way that this could come back and bite me in the ass later? Right?

Cut to 2009 as I stroll into H&R Block to take care of my taxes, and this is where things start to take a turn. My tax preparer, who we shall hereto refer to as Dipshit McPeckerhead, decided that my education award was subject to a self-employment tax. Try as I might to inform him that I was a volunteer for the organization and that a self-employment tax made absolutely no sense in my case, he insisted that he was right and that I needed to file the way he said. I even told him that the previous year my preparer had designated the award that I'd used up to that point as an award given for volunteer service. You see, I had no problem with the fact that the award was subject to some tax. I was told before I received it that it was subject to tax, and that I should use the award over two years so that the taxes wouldn't be too overwhelming. So a tax is fine, but a self-employment tax is just stupid. Dipshit saw things otherwise, however, and I was forced to pay H & R Block something in the ballpark of $150 to be told that I owed the IRS even more money.

And if you'll just sign here, I'll remove my stapler from your ass.

Well, I'm no tax expert (hence being dumb enough to use H & R Block in the first place) but I knew something was fishy. So I followed up with the IRS, who informed me in so many words that Mr. McPeckerhead could not differentiate his ass from a hole in the ground. I made an appointment with my bestest buddy, who made an amended return that said I was actually owed a few hundred bucks. I could tell that he really felt bad about screwing up my taxes when I used the word refund and he looked at me like I just took a dump on his computer. I was just glad to have the amended return so I went on my way, having to wait an extra two months for the check since the amendment had to be sent via standard mail instead of electronically. But at least the whole fiasco was finally over. Right?

Cut to 2010, as Philadelphia embarked upon it's Tax Amnesty Program, which I'm paying no real attention to since all my taxes were surely in order. Hell, I even went back to H & R Block for this year's taxes, specifically avoiding Senor Cabesa de Pene and having a relatively painless experience. Then, a few weeks ago, I get some mail from the city that looks quite official. It even had those perforated edges that sometimes denotes that you'll be getting a check. But this, my friends, was much better than a check. This was a notice that I showed up in the city's records as needing to file a tax return for a profit on a business. Well, unless I'd somehow started turning a profit off of annoying the shit out of my fiance, I knew this was a mistake and I had a strong feeling that it could be traced back to a certain braindead tax preparer. I tried making calls for about a month to get the matter settled, but I could not get an answer that made me feel like I wasn't going to be arrested for tax evasion within a year.

So, I finally broke down and just went to the municipal building in Center City, which, I can tell you, is one satisfying way to spend a vacation day. Since I'd rather ride a bicycle with a broken lightbulb for a seat than try to park in Center City Philadelphia, I drove to a subway stop and took the train in the rest of the way. First, I got to wait for about an hour and a half, which gave me ample opportunity to observe the creme de la creme of Philadelphia. After all, all of those losers were dirty tax scofflaws who piss all over our society's rules. I, on the other hand, was a victim of a mistake in the system. Only me. So I finally get to a representative, and within about two minutes she comes to the conclusion that I did not in fact owe any taxes. However, in order to prove that, I would need to provide additional paperwork that I didn't have for a different department. I couldn't take another day off for this mess, so I took the subway back to my car, drove home, found the paper work, and drove/rode the subway all the way back. But it was all worth it because I was finally about to be done with this whole thing. Right?

Cut to the new department where I've taken the proper paperwork, and guess what? It turns out I do in fact need to pay taxes on the "income" that I've earned. It's at this point that I'd really like to do the following:

Actually, if we're going to be honest, me lashing out would probably look more like this:

But anyway you look at it, I was getting very close to being very unpleasant. So the woman tells me that if I can provide proof that the award I received never went to me but directly to my loan institution, I would not have to pay any taxes. Well, all I needed to do was get on the website that kept track of my award transactions, but of course I wasn't allowed to use one of the city's computers because that would have been too fucking helpful. I had to walk 8 goddamn blocks in 90 degree weather to get to the nearest available computer and then walk all the way back. But it would all be worth it because everything would be over and done with. Right?

Guess what...it actually was! After a measly 6 hours, everything was finally over! Thank you Jesus, there is a Santa Claus! I got a written verification, and the promise that I was no longer in the system as owing any taxes to the butthole city of Philadelphia. That's right, ladies and gentleman, I am free of the shackles of the tax scofflaw. I think I will celebrate by not editing this post for typos, and then going to sleep and dreaming of a certain H & R Block employee being slowly devoured by a large swarm of insects. Sweet dreams too all.


  1. It's a good thing you're a grumpy old man because something like that would make JC himself a grumpy old man. Seriously, there is nothing more frustrating (and terrifying) than mindless bureaucracy.

  2. The whole time I read this post sir, the only thing I could think of was "Why the hell doesn't he file his own returns?" But then I remembered, this is the guy that worked for less than minimum wage working in a now defunct pharmacy doing stuff like painting walls.

    It is in my opinion, that you deserved the 6 hours of hell.

    Have a good day friend! :)

  3. J_Fellenbaum....your honest and practical critique of my situation is greatly appreciated. Fuck you very much.