As I’ve been following all of the recent hoopla taking place within the castle walls of our nation’s capitol regarding elected and appointed government officials and their personal unflattering income tax woes, I couldn’t help but reflect on the “good old days” when my wife and I had so many dependant children at home that we looked forward to submitting that infamous IRS 1040 form.
Depending on how your economic year has been going, you typically either love or you hate April 15 — income tax day for most tax filers. If you’ve dutifully paid your taxes throughout the year and you determine that you are due a refund you might even file your IRS forms early.
And that is exactly what we did one year when we had eight children to claim as dependents — we filed our tax return early in hopes of receiving a desperately needed refund.
When the letter arrived from the IRS two months later, I was certain that it contained a United States Treasury check for the total amount of the refund due. With much anticipation, I ripped open the envelope — no check!
All that was in the envelope was a “demand” letter requiring me to explain why I had claimed two additional dependents on a separate piece of paper instead of filling out their names, birthdates and social security numbers on the “required” regular form.
My return letter to the agent explained that the IRS 1040 form only had spaces for six dependent names — not the eight names that I needed to submit — and that was why I had submitted the two additional names on a separate piece of paper.
The next IRS letter arrived a month later and included a blank IRS 1040 form instructing me to resubmit the two additional names on the additional form. I complied, which then meant that I had submitted two separate tax return forms — one with six names and the other with only two names.
Another two months goes by before the next letter arrives from our “personal” IRS agent. He stated that it would be necessary for us (it was a joint return) to “prove” that the dependents were “in fact” our dependent children. He suggested that we provide the IRS with copies of each child’s birth certificate.
That letter was a little annoying, but we concluded that the request was actually reasonable considering how many dependents we were claiming. So we mailed off copies of all of the birth certificates of our dependent children.
About two months later, still another letter. This time the letter was from a “senior” agent who was reviewing our file. He stated that “copies” of the birth certificates was insufficient — they had to be “certified” original birth certificates in order to be acceptable.
At the time, I was serving in the U.S. Army Reserve and began to wonder if the IRS was actually an agency of the Russian government. Time would later suggest that the IRS had some sort of secret mind-reading devise that could accurately interpret my inner-most thoughts — which are probably now recorded in some “special” file in the IRS archives!
After spending $5-$15 per certificate from several different states, the “certified” copies were mailed off to the IRS — sent “Certified” with a return receipt request. I’m sure the agent made special note of the “care” that I was taking to make sure that my children’s’ birth certificates were handled properly.
Another two months goes by — I had by then given up on receiving any needed refund — and I receive still another letter from the senior agent inviting us to travel (at our expense) to a nearby major city for a face-to-face meeting with the agent to discuss the status of the return.
By this time, I had had enough of the IRS to last a life-time. I telephoned the agent to inquire if it would be necessary to bring our eight children to the meeting for photographing and fingerprinting as an additional proof of identification. He saw no humor in my question. I wasn’t through. My second question was if it was necessary for me to invite the three major television networks (at the time) to the meeting to keep an accurate record of the event.
The telephone conversation ended on a testosterone note of anger on both sides.
On the day of the meeting, it was just the senior agent (in a wheel chair) and me — face to face in his rather dull-looking office tucked away on the third floor of an expensive office building.
My first reaction upon seeing him in a wheel chair was that of compassion because of his restricted physical condition. However, after opening his mouth questioning if I “was a tax protester,” and advising that if I was a tax protester he would have to turn my “case” over to a special tax protester department, my demeanor quickly changed. My second reaction was to put my foot at the backside of his wheelchair providing a quick exit for him down the stairway!
Self-restraint prevailed, and I have fully repented of my ill-thoughts of this Soviet-style IRS agent. But I am still perturbed at the treatment received from this “semi-secret” agency cloaked in the once-upon-a-time good intentions of former “public servants.”
And, by the way, our tax refund arrived approximately one year from the day the original tax return was filed. No, the IRS did not pay us any interest … or penalty! And, yes, remarkably, they eventually inquired why we had submitted “two” IRS Form 1040s!
Maybe the recently appointed “leader” of the IRS will do away with the agency and become a national hero. I wonder what his treatment would be if he didn’t pay his taxes?
© Grafe is a former managing editor of the Seguin Gazette Enterprise and a former chief juvenile probation officer for Guadalupe County.