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IRS: Intrusive Revenue Snoopers

| Working | August 7, 2016

(The town where I live is on the west coast. Many years ago, the town decided to encourage high school students to work in the community, so they created and publicized a Youth Employment Service. I phoned and asked a few questions:)

Me: “I could use some help cleaning house. Do you have anyone who will do that sort of work?”

Youth Employment Service: “Yes, we do. A number of girls have listed housekeeping among their skills.”

Me: “I see you take care of work permits, but do you deduct from the students’ wages the SS Tax and IRS withholding?”

Youth Employment Service: “No, we don’t. I doubt anyone really worries about those things since there’s really not that much money involved.”

Me: “But the IRS rules say that withholding must be paid if the employee earns more than $50 per quarter, and I’m sure to be paying the student that much.”

Youth Employment Service: “Well, then, it’s up to you to take care of those things. We don’t handle the money.”

(I end up hiring a girl to do cleaning, and she does so weekly. I get an employer identification number from the IRS and I fill out the paperwork with the IRS and SS Administration. When I pay the student, I tally up how much is owed the IRS and SS Admin, and send it on quarterly. The first girl lasts maybe two months before quitting, and when she quits I hire another. By the time I move out of that town to take a job on the east coast, a couple years later, I’d employed about a half dozen girls, all in the 16- to 18-year-old range. Several months go by in my new home before I got a dunning letter from the IRS, SENT DIRECTLY TO MY NEW, EAST COAST ADDRESS:)

Letter: “Our records show that you have failed to submit [IRS form number] for [Student I’d employed on the west coast]. If you fail to pay withholding taxes [some threat of dire penalties, etc.]”

(This letter is quickly followed by identical ones for EACH of the students I’d employed on the west coast. Naturally, I try contacting the IRS about this, but get exactly nowhere. Soon I receive letters threatening even MORE dire consequences. I give up and forward copies of all these letters to my US Senator, along with an explanation that goes something like this:)

Me: “Dear Senator [Name]: As you can see from the enclosed documents, the IRS seems intent on penalizing me for failure to pay withholding tax for persons no longer in my employ. Apparently, some pencil-pusher at the IRS thinks I moved from the west coast to the east coast and brought along a bevy of high school girls when I did so. Had I done such a thing, I certainly hope that the consequences would entail more than the dire financial ones outlined in the enclosed letters. I would be ever so grateful if you’d get these IRS ninnies off my back.”

(I never heard about the matter again.)

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