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We Could Do With A Pick-Me-Up After This

, , , | Working | December 22, 2021

I have just moved to a small town from a larger city. There’s a bit of culture shock. I realize this when I call city hall.

Me: “I have something large I’d like to throw away. What are my options?”

Clerk: “The garbage collectors only take bulk items one week in April.”

Me: “That’s nine months away. I have to keep it until then?”

Clerk: “You can take it to the dump yourself.”

Me: “I can’t do that.”

Clerk: “Sure you can. Just toss it in your pickup and drive it out.”

Me: “I don’t have a pickup.”

Clerk: *Dead serious* “Are you being smart with me?”

The Million-Dollar Blip

, , , , | Working | December 6, 2021

This story is a family legend. My grandpa was a big stand-up guy; honesty was the best policy, and if you don’t like the truth, don’t ask him anything that you don’t want answered.

Every year, he did his taxes on time, got his tax return, and went about his day. One year, the IRS decided that computers were the future and began upgrading to electronic tax systems. Keep in mind that this happened somewhere in the early 1960s. Through the headaches of new technology, a blip occurred.

A big blip.

A MILLION-DOLLAR blip!

My grandfather stared at this one-million-dollar tax return check and then tried calling the IRS to report it.

I don’t know the details of the conversation, but the gist of the conversation was:

Grandpa: “I would like to report an error on my tax return. I believe a decimal has to have been misplaced somewhere, or your systems have made a mistake.”

IRS: “We are the IRS. We don’t make mistakes!”

Grandpa: “Well, you cut me a million-dollar check. I promise you that I did not make enough money this year to deserve that size tax return.”

IRS: “We do not make mistakes. If the system says your tax return is a million dollars, then your tax return is a million dollars.”

Grandpa: “You’re an idiot.” *Click*

Grandpa tucked that million dollars in a savings account and didn’t touch it all year, save to put a bit in once a month.

A year later, panic time! Or, well… panic at the IRS, anyway. Practically eating their words, hat in hand, with apologies to a smirking Grandpa, they admitted that they might have indeed made a mistake the previous year and needed the money back.

Perfectly calm, Grandpa wrote them that million-dollar check and told them, “I told that boy he was an idiot.”

A year’s worth of interest remained in Grandpa’s account from that million dollars. That, plus his eventual retirement, helped him build a house and raise his family before he passed away in the early 2000s. We wish we could get that kind of blip again because the interest nowadays would be a heck of a lot higher.

This Vacation Was More Relaxing For Some Than For Others

, , , , | Working | November 18, 2021

I used to work for a government department. About ten years ago, my wife and I bought our very first travel trailer and we planned a “glamping” vacation. After we both had booked the time off from our employers, there was a last-minute conference scheduled that I was required to attend.

Rather than cancelling my vacation or skipping the conference, I asked if I could take my trailer instead of flying. That way I could still have my trip — albeit with a different destination — and still attend the conference. After the conference was over, we would carry on with our vacation and travel to our original destination via a different route.

I was approved with the understanding that I would only be compensated for the equivalent cost of flying and staying in a hotel. While not covering the entire cost — especially fuel for towing a large trailer — I was very happy with the arrangement.

All went well on our first long-distance trip of 1,300 km (800 miles) to the conference and another 2,500 km (1,550 miles) on our extended route home. I came home, claimed for four nights in campgrounds, meals, and km equivalent to the airfare.

Everyone was happy until the auditor checked claims about a month later. He told our claims people that employees are not allowed to accept less than they would be entitled to whatever the travel mode. So, when they approved me going by my own vehicle, they needed to pay the full cost. Even though I was happy with the arrangement, it didn’t matter. The auditor gave them a month to correct the claim.

I was told there was a maximum number of km I was allowed to drive per day, so instead of claiming one day up and one day back, I claimed three days up and three days back for campgrounds and meals. I also claimed back four days of vacation because I was “working” those days. I also got the government km rate for the entire distance (1,300 up and back and not the actual 2,500 indirect route home), not just the equivalent to airfare. Altogether I had to claim another $1,600.

While I was perfectly happy with the original arrangement, I was forced to take more money and saved four days of vacation. I was never allowed to take my trailer to a conference again.

That’s Government For You

, , , | Working | November 4, 2021

There are some laws you may need to understand for this story. Employers firing someone have to give three months’ notice. Employees being fired have to give three months’ notice to the unemployment office and show up on their first day of unemployment to get full benefits. 

Calling the unemployment office is impossible; I’ve never reached any humans on the phone. I am living with my parents, despite being twenty-seven. I get fired. Since you can’t call government offices, I send them an email telling them about my situation and giving my first unemployment date.

A week later, I have a new job. Calling the unemployment office doesn’t work, so I send them another email.

On my first day on the new job, I get home to my very pissed mother.

Me: “Something wrong?”

Mother: “Do you want to tell us something?”

Me: “I wouldn’t know. What?”

Then, my baby brother chimes in.

Brother: “You could work at the school; I really need a math teacher who is nice.”

Me: “Thanks, but I have a job.”

Mother: “Then why did the unemployment office call? You told them that today is your first day unemployed.”

Me: “That information is three months outdated. I found a new job within a week and sent them another email. Why did they call you?”

It turned out that since my mother has to report unemployment every year during summer vacation, they had her phone number. We still reported a breach of data protection.

Taxing Taxing, Part 11

, , , , , | Working | October 9, 2021

Back when the Affordable Care Act was first implemented, I was only on my mother’s insurance, since I didn’t get insurance through my job. When it came time to do taxes, I used a computer tax program to file. When it got to the part about insurance, I put that I had insurance but didn’t pay anything as I was not the policyholder.

A couple of weeks later, I receive a notice from the IRS saying that my taxes were missing Form 8962, which is the form for insurance. My taxes won’t be filed until it is submitted. I do the form myself and send it in. A few weeks later, I receive my tax return and it is $2,000 more than it should be. I figure out that they gave me the insurance tax credit even though I put on the form that I paid nothing toward the insurance as I wasn’t the policyholder.

I call the IRS and explain the situation and that I do not deserve this money.

Employee #1: “Since our tax department is closed for the rest of the year, there isn’t anyone you can talk to to amend the tax return to return the money.”

After this, I call a few more times and nobody will help me. I set the $2,000 in my savings account and don’t do anything with it.

I receive a letter from the IRS sometime later saying they listened to my phone calls and will investigate the situation, that I don’t have to do anything else, and that they will contact me later. The next tax season rolls around and I haven’t heard anything more. I decide I want to get this situation settled before filing my taxes for that year. 

I call the IRS AGAIN and ask them about the case.

Employee #2: “The case has been closed and the money is yours to keep.”

Me: “What are the chances you could audit me years later and hit me with fines?”

Employee #2: “It could happen, but there’s no way to know.”

I thanked her, hung up, and then thought for a bit. I called the IRS one more time and asked to talk to someone who could look at my previous year’s tax forms. I was transferred to their tax department and the woman there was so helpful. She looked over it with me and said I had done the form wrong, but they should not have sent me that money. She was nice enough to amend my tax forms for me, send them so I could sign them, and give me instructions on how to return the money.

When I received the package, I followed the instructions, sent the amended tax forms and the $2,000 back, and thought nothing of it. Then, I received a letter from the IRS that turned out to be a bill. They billed me $80 in interest for keeping money that I did not deserve. I called the IRS and asked the representative if the fee could be waived since I had tried multiple times to return it, but nobody would work with me. She told me the fee couldn’t be waived. Frustrated, I paid the $80 and tried my best to put it behind me. It hasn’t worked yet since I freak out every time I receive a letter from them.

Related:
Taxing Taxing, Part 10
Taxing Taxing, Part 9
Taxing Taxing, Part 8
Taxing Taxing, Part 7
Taxing Taxing, Part 6