Something a little lighter today, shall we?
If something goes wrong with your taxes and the IRS catches it, it takes them just about a year to let you know. Therefore, any problems with returns that we did in the spring of 2011 are just now coming to light. The letters from the IRS started hitting mailboxes about two weeks ago, right when we were getting slammed by THIS season's last minute rush. Timing couldn't be worse.
People have only two reactions when they get a letter from the IRS. Most people freak out and freak out big. They peek out of their front curtains to see if their house is being watched. They lay awake at night picturing themselves in prison jumpsuits. Then they empty every one of their file cabinets, shoe boxes and junk drawers into a huge cardboard box and descend on our office like a fireball.
All we usually need is that letter they got from the IRS. Just that letter. But no worries, they brought it and five extra copies they had made of it at Office Max, just in case.
This is a story about a couple who got one these letters. I got a call from them and the wife tried to read the letter over the phone to me while her husband yelled in the background. When I finally got a word in, I told her it would be much more helpful if I could actually see the letter.
Ten minutes later they were both coming in the door with their two little girls. The couple was loaded down with files, notebooks and stuffed envelopes. Without so much as a hello, they started dumping out everything on my desk, making piles and arguing with each other over where was this and did you bring that. The two little girls took off their coats, threw them on the floor then kicked off their shoes. They brought with them enough snacks to feed twenty kids and huge pink ball. The set-up a picnic on the chairs and started bouncing the ball off of everything in the room.
The couple was now ready to acknowledge me. At the same time, talking over each other, they tried to explain the situation. All I wanted was the letter. Could I see the letter, please?
The seven page letter was dug up. There problem wasn't a huge one. It involved some dividend money that they received but didn't get put on there return. Not uncommon and not freak out worthy in the least. They were able to locate the statement about the dividend.
"So, I'm keeping this statement and this letter and I'll call you next week, when tax season is over. I can't work on this now."
The husband was not happy with this answer in the least.
"What about the penalties and the interest? We have to take care of this right away, don't we?"
"Nothing about this situation is going to change between right now and next week." I tried to sound reassuring, but I suspected it sounded more like bitch. The excited screaming of the little girls as they chased the ball was putting me deeply on edge.
"Is there something you need us to sign?"
I shook my head, "Not until next week when I get a chance to work this up."
They were dumbstruck. Literally sat their with their mouths hanging open. Right at that moment the big pink ball flew across the room and hit the dad square in the ear. It was beautiful. He spun in his chair, saw the state of room and shouted, "Hey! Put your shoes on! Throw away all that trash! We're going home!"
It wasn't an easy exit or quiet but eventually everyone was packed up and dressed. The husband has called everyday, even over the weekend, to see if we are ready for him to come back. I can honestly say that I could never, ever get myself prepared for a scene like that again, but I have fixed his tax problem. He's coming in later today.
The other reaction that people have to receiving an IRS letter is to pretend it never came. My next post will be about a few of these people that we have as clients. Prepare to be amazed!