January 31, 2011

Being a 'Crazy Magnet' Makes Life Interesting

Tax season is upon us. I have had some interesting people sitting across the desk from me. I've also answered many tax questions over the phone. Our new receptionist says that I'm "the crazy magnet", since I seem to draw in all the unique individuals, those taking and/or needing psychiatric medications, and other malcontents.

There was the homeless man who, seeing me from across the road, walked all the way over to our door to ask me why I was doing taxes now, as it wasn't tax day yet. Can you imagine doing ALL the returns in a single day? 

He then told me that his friend got a check worth $2.3 million, and was concerned that the friend used HIS identity to get some of the money. I assured him that if he didn't have that money available, there's no way his friend could get it from him. The homeless fellow, dressed in Army camo fatigues, was trying to get some money to buy himself some food and clothes. He insisted he was quite warm in his outfit, but I don't know how that could be true. I told him to try a local organization called 'Heaven Sent', they give away clothing to those in need.

I've had several families come in, their young children in tow. Young children who have missed their naps. And scream and cry to let you know that they are NOT in the mood to be sitting at the desk. 

I whip out paper and markers for the kids, and that seems to keep them occupied for a short while. One thing that usually gets them crying again is when Mommy or Daddy refuses to play with them, and draw on the paper, too.

Then there was the 2 year old who practically screamed "CHOO CHOO TWAIN!" approximately 259 times, wanting somebody...ANYBODY to know about his fondness for that mode of transportation.

But even more distracting than the tired kiddies? The little girl who brought in a Barbie laptop toy - a toy whose volume could drown out most vacuum cleaners - a toy which repeated the same couple of phrases OVER.AND.OVER.AND.OVER.

I had a woman call and ask about whether she and her husband could deduct his work mileage. Apparently, he works about an hour away from his home. It's his regular work location. And all his friends deduct their mileage. I told her that he cannot count his commute time as work mileage.

She called back a few minutes later to tell me that her husband said that all his friends deduct it. I surprised myself by uttering a Mom-like statement: "Just because they do it, it doesn't make it right." In my head, I was thinking, "If his friends jumped off a bridge, would he go too?"

I hope all his friends like paying the interest and penalties when they get caught. Commuting miles are NOT deductible.

We've been moderately busy, but this week is usually one of our busiest, as most folks have received their W-2s and interest statements from banks and other financial institutions.

Sorry about the 'destructive, dangerous storm' that is approaching. This storm could affect 100 MILLION people this week.

They don't pay me enough to risk my life to show up at work if it gets as bad as they predict.

Sorry, taxpayers.

The IRS still is not able to process returns that contain a Schedule A or educational credits. But now, they've figured out how to put all those returns on hold, and will begin processing them about Feb. 14, their estimated date for completion of system changes (due to the tax cut legislation passed late in December).

I've heard several complaints from younger clients about how stupid it is to pay Social Security. I always tell them that their grandparents thank them for their contribution, but that they themselves will probably never see the money again. I then urge them to participate in their company's 401K program (if offered), as contributions lower taxable income, and any funds matched by their employer is far better than interest they could get on a savings account.

I am surprised by the number of clients who do not have a bank account. That's why check cashing stores are in business, I guess.

I don't know if the economy is getting better, or if our clients have resigned themselves that their current income situation is not likely to improve - there have been less complaints about how bad things are, and not one client has pitched a fit about the fact that they will NOT be able to get their refund in one or two days this year. They'll sigh and just sign the papers, knowing that their refund may take as long as 15 days to show up.

Another indicator of their attitude occurs when I ask taxpayers who are getting a sizable refund if they're going to have a big party to celebrate. Most say they are going to pay bills, or buy a vehicle to replace one that is beyond repair.

I still have not made anyone cry, and nobody has yelled at me...but it's still relatively early in the season.


  1. Loved this! And you must be a saint or an angel...or just a plain old weirdo magnet who doesn't really mind screaming kids and chaos, etc!!

  2. You sound more like a life counselor/babysitter than a tax preparer!

  3. For years I have worked as one of those lovely independents with Liberty Tax in our local Walmart during this time of year. Nice extra income and "free" entertainment.

    I'm telling you - there are some real winners out there these days! This year however, having just moved, getting into routines and being in a much less tight financial place - I decided to decline returning.

    I miss parts of it - but honestly - can't say that I am envious of you right now. It CAN be fun - but then again...it can be horrible too.

    Praying your tax time is fun the whole way through with no yelling and lots of nice and quiet customers!!!

  4. Crazies to tax time are like bedbugs to a New York City hotel. Insidious, bothersome, and itchy.

  5. Did ours last week and got them back on Friday.. i was wondering why HR block can't do the 1 day refund this year but Jackson Hewitt can?? I went to HR cause they have done ours for 15 years not changing now


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