Closing REMARKS2/12/09

No taxation without preparation

First he sneezed all over my tax statements. Then he typed my wrong address, followed by him whipping out his magnifying glass because he couldn’t see the numbers.
He barely spoke English so I had to ask him to repeat things, which annoyed him. After over an hour of him complaining that his forms on the screen did not match mine, as we both shivered next to a space heater in his bare-bones rented office, after flipping back and forth between screens, trying to make sense of what he was seeing, he concluded I owed the state of New Jersey $11,000 in taxes.
That can’t be right, I said. He agreed and began repeating his torturous calculations. After another hour of clicking and mumbled curses he concluded I was missing a form.
The only reason I came to this nationally known tax preparation service was a 25 dollar coupon I’d received in the mail. He was still muttering and clicking away even as I gathered up my forms and left.
I returned to another nationally known tax preparation service I had gone to the previous five years. I asked for someone who spoke English and was pleasantly surprised to be assigned to a smiling middle-aged English speaking woman.
We flowed through my taxes, Federal and State, making small talk. I was finished in less than an hour. I would have to pay the state, but I was getting money back from the Feds. I excused myself to use the facilities.
When I returned the smiling agent said there was a ‘small problem’ with my rollover situation. Neither she nor her manager was certain how to approach it, so my forms would have to be faxed to their rollover specialist in Jersey City. I forced a smile and shrugged, figuring it would take a couple of hours and I’d have to return that afternoon to finalize things.
Two days later I was still waiting for the call indicating the problem was resolved. I drove back and waited until smiling lady showed up forty minutes late. As she walked over to the water cooler where I sat, I smiled and extended my open palms, as if to say, what gives?
The answer was that Mr. Rollover Specialist was very busy and hadn’t gotten back to her yet. I replied that this was unacceptable, letting my voice rise as I recounted the whole runaround and how I had all the necessary documentation. Everyone in the waiting area stared at me, which was just fine.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“Give me back my paperwork,” I said. “I’m making a formal complaint about this.” In less than a minute I was outside with my forms cursing their stupidity and stubbornness.
Rich people cheat on taxes, and the poor skip taxes altogether. The middle class try to play by the rules – coming away aggravated and distraught.
I’m going to an accountant and I’m not leaving his office until I get my damn refund. Or, I’ll start tossing tea bags in the nearest river. – Joe Del Priore

Joe Del Priore is a frequent contributor.


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