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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

Digging Deeper Into The Red Tape

, , , , | Working | July 9, 2021

In my town, if you are planning to dig in your yard, you call a number and they’ll come out and mark the location of all sewer, gas, and water lines, etc., so you don’t accidentally dig into one. I call the number.

Me: “I’m planning on putting in a little shed.”

Operator: “Okay. How deep are you planning on digging?”

Me: “I’m not actually going to have to dig.”

The shed is a kit that you bolt to a heavy wooden platform that sits directly on the ground.

Operator: “Sorry, we only mark dig sites.”

Me: “Yes, but I want to make sure I don’t build this on top of a line.”

Operator: “Dig sites only.”

Me: “Yes… but say I build this on top of the water line, and then five years later they have to work on it? I don’t want to have to take the whole thing down.”

Operator: “Dig sites only, sorry.”

Me: “So, what should I do?”

Operator: “Call the water, power, phone, gas, and cable companies and ask if they’ll come out and mark the lines.”

Me: “Is that free, like you guys?”

Operator: “No, they’ll probably each charge you for a service call.”

Me: “You know what? I think I am planning on digging.”

Operator: “How deep?”

Me: “A quarter-inch.”

Operator: “We’ll send someone out this week.”

I couldn’t tell if she was trying to give me a hint or was just that officious.

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes Plague

, , , , , | Right | CREDIT: SeaworthinessTrue988 | June 23, 2021

I work at a town hall, one of my tasks is issuing marriage licenses when health crisis restrictions ease up as they have.

Today, I have an appointment to issue a license. I grab my mask, sanitize my hands, grab the different documents, and head down to one of our rooms that’s big enough to have people standing six feet apart. Since the town hall’s doors are locked to avoid walk-ins, I have to meet them at the door. The woman has no mask; when I ask her to wear one, she says she is exempt, showing me a screenshot of a US exemption; we’re in Canada. We’re not allowed to ask for proof, so I just deal with it and pretend like she never showed me. I ask her to sanitize her hands. Again, she refuses.

Our process for a marriage license is to have them bring their application, any prior divorce or death certificates, and IDs. I ask if her partner is going to show up and she says yes, so we wait for about ten minutes. This puts the appointment a little late; we have thirty minutes for each appointment, and I have one in another room right after.

The woman’s partner arrives, we exchange pleasantries, and we get started. I’ve already checked their IDs and application by email, so I quickly recheck and write the info down. From there I get into the health-crisis-related questions.

Me: “1. Where is your wedding being held?”

Woman: “Inside the church at [Street].”

No big deal; we still allow church weddings if the group is smaller than ten people.

Me: “2. Will you be having a reception? If yes, where?”

Woman: “Yes, at [Banquet Hall].”

Red flags are sailing, so I ask the third question.

Me: “3. How big is the group attending?”

Woman: *All giddy* “Well, for my group there are about ninety-three guests, and on his side, there will be eighty or so. We have more coming to the reception. I think in total there will be 200 people or so.

I look up at her from the license. I look to the guy and then back at her.

Me: “I can’t issue a license for a gathering that large. Indoor gatherings must have fewer than ten people, including the couple and the officiant. Outdoor gatherings can have up to thirty, including the couple and officiant.”

The woman immediately flips out.

Woman: “You’re infringing my right to get married! [Health Crisis] is just a scam. It has a 99.9% survival rate! I should be allowed to get married! I’ve been planning this for three months and already paid for all the food and everything!”

I try to deescalate, telling her I can’t give her the license because it’s against the law. I hand her a pamphlet with [Health Crisis]-safe marriage information and start to walk them out. She’s still throwing a tantrum. She demands to speak to my manager, so I call her down.

My manager was already busy dealing with other stuff, so she isn’t in the best mood. The woman says I was belligerent, called her names, didn’t accept she wouldn’t wear a mask, etc.

Manager: “Well, why don’t I pull up the footage and we can take a look?”

The woman flips out even more, saying the same stuff as before. My manager is done with this.

Manager: “No clerk in [City] will issue a marriage license in this situation because it is against the law. We need to write down how many people will be at the celebration. You then have to post the green paper outside the venue and an officer may or may not drop in. If we are found to have issued a license and there are more people present, you will be fined. The clerk will no longer be able to give licenses and we will be in a lot of trouble. As you told the clerk, you have only planned this for three months. That means you’ve had enough time to know it’s a health crisis. Because of your attitude to my clerk, we will no longer be accepting any appointments for you or your partner. As far as I’m concerned, you are banned.”

She then took the application, stamped “Rejected” on it, and took it with her.

We ended up having to call security to escort them out of the building. Oh, and as for her partner, he did nothing. He literally sat in the chair and did nothing. But at least he wore a mask.