On Friday, February 16, a neighbor told me about the Vita Program: free tax help for seniors – and I drove to the Senior Center to get an appointment. The only one available was for my birthday, March 19. Who wants to do taxes on their birthday? I didn’t, and so I asked to be called if there was a cancellation.
My answering machine was blinking when I got home. Could I come Monday, February 19? Sure! And I spent the weekend preparing the summary sheets I had learned to make as a massage therapist: alphabetized list of expenses with numbers, and with relevant 1099 and other forms clipped to the page.
Monday morning, February 19, I arrived early. The first thing that happened was the “greeter” took all my 1099s and other forms. That single act launched me into an orbit I found difficult to navigate. I’m used to being in charge and being treated like a child… well, let’s just say the five-hour experience there was brutal for many reasons. By comparison, the guy at H&R Block routinely did the entire tax return for both federal and state taxes in less than an hour.
Fortunately, the guy doing mine was a familiar face. He had dated a friend many years ago and was a career psychologist. He took the IRS training to do taxes for seniors.
He didn’t know how to handle expenses when the owner lives in the rental property, and so he asked his wife who was doing taxes at a table about twenty feet from ours. She used to work at H&R Block.
My rental property is an old house that was converted to a “triplex” (three apartments with separate entrances) before I bought it. I live in the attic and rent out two apartments downstairs.
She had nothing good to say about the man who did my taxes several times, the son of H&R Block owners. And her opinions reverberated in this giant room filled with people getting their taxes done at the Extension Building of the Fairgrounds.
The supervisor joined the discussion, standing on the other side of our table. He explained that the tax return I had brought with me had been done wrong. YIKES!
When there was a pause in his threatening lecture — “You can do whatever you like, but the rules are…” — I looked at my watch.
“Hey, it’s 2:00, and I haven’t eaten since 6 a.m. How do you want to handle this?”
My appointment was at 11, and I had come early; I was told it would be an hour, and so I hadn’t even brought a water bottle, much less lunch.
Herr Supervisor said, “Well, since you’re friends, you can finish at his house.”
My “friend” with whom I might have exchanged thirty words in thirty years said, “Acquaintances. Not friends. And I brought my lunch.”
I said I would grab a quick one and bring it back.
Fortunately, Griego’s was less than a block away. I got a combination burrito and a Pepsi (caffeine to kill the throbbing headache) and ate in my car while I considered my situation. If I elected to do my taxes myself, then it might be tagged by the supervisor, even if I did it as I had just learned was “the right way.” I had no option. I had to go back.
I was gone only for twenty minutes. My acquaintance was just finishing his lunch. He said, “what do you want to do?”
I said, “Do it as you were trained.”
We worked together and had it done in less than an hour.
Another agent who had been sitting at the table next to us, who had heard everything, came over to check the numbers. I was not included in their conversation. I could not see the laptop screen from my side of the table. I was not part of the “checking the numbers routine.”
My acquaintance told me he was going to print it and have me sign it and that it would be digitally filed the next day.
When I got home, I made a cup of coffee and calmly checked the numbers. Neither agent had noticed the omission of the $1,042 deduction for property insurance which included outside water and sewage lines!
Unnerved, I went through the tax return line by line and found a few other math errors. I highlighted them in red and emailed it to my acquaintance. It was only because we had “known” each other for so long that we had some casual talk at the end of the gruesome day while he packed up his materials.
Somehow tennis came up, and we shared our experiences. His experience was glamorous: traveling around to different non-pro tennis events with thirteen guys, winning all but the last one because they had not played on clay. He had never connected with the local network. But I had been a substitute for doubles groups and told him about the opportunities here.
He said he’d never play again because he’d had back surgery. He even got up and demonstrated what it would be like for him to “get into position” and execute a ground stroke on either side with his limited movement.
And so I told him about Seniors’ Tennis: how almost everyone there had some physical limitation, but they were all excellent players. He was interested and gave me his email to notify him when play resumed in March.
Because we had that little chat after the grueling day of tax prep, I had a way to tell him about my taxes. I sent him the errors. He sent them to the supervisor. And the supervisor interacted with me by email until they were done correctly.
Getting contact information that I would need in less than an hour is an example of the kind of synchronicity I’ve noticed ever since my awakening experience almost thirty years ago. The one I wrote about in the Burnout to Bliss series.
Last chance to get Book 3, 2 years 1 paycheck 0 plans — a story of healing for $.99 while it is on Pre-order through this week. Get it here:
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Till next time, please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi