This is a scary story.
A man came in to get his father's taxes done. His dad can't leave the house easily, so his son was getting this errand done for him. It wasn't complicated and while it was printing up I casually asked the son if I would be doing his taxes as well.
"Nah, I don't have to file. I didn't make anything last year at all. Just unemployment."
"You know you still have to file," I tried to sound cheerful. "Unemployment is taxable income."
"No, no, no. You don't get it. I ONLY had unemployment. That's it."
"Yeah, I see. But unemployment is taxable income. You have to file."
That's when things went bad. He went from being a completely normal person to a furious monster. Why didn't anyone tell him that? How was he supposed to know? How is that fair? Hands were flying, eyes were blazing. I was getting really nervous for my safety. The phrase Don't Kill the Messenger was taking on a whole new dimension for me.
Finally he thought he found an out. "Wait, I never got a statement in the mail about that!" He was filled with hope from head to toe. Unfortunately...
"Yeah, nobody got one in the mail. It's in your correspondence mailbox when you log in into your account for unemployment on the website. (I've done this plenty of times this season. Actually had to talk a guy through the process over the phone like some IT person.)
So I had him log in on my computer and there it was. His tax statement showing how much he got from the state in 2011. My heart just sank when I saw that he had no federal money withheld. This situation was, unbelievably, about to get worse.
So he agreed to have me put together his return which took all of 2 minutes. The result was a pretty big bill that he owed the IRS. Now he was crazy angry all over again.
"That's how it is huh? Well I'm not filing and I'm sure as HELL not paying anybody!"
After he settled down just a tick I dropped some serious truth on him. He could go ahead and not file and he could go ahead and never pay, but the government would get the money one way or the other eventually and by then it wouldn't just be a big bill anymore, it would be crushingly huge. This wasn't some small time private contractor paying him on an easy to lose 1099 Miscellaneous, this was the State of Ohio and the IRS. No escaping it.
So he let me file him. But he left swearing that he'd never pay. At least I saved him the hefty Failure to File penalty. His story is his own now.