Anticipa-a-a-tion…  We’ve been wai-ai-ai-ting, and today the waiting ended, with a ho-hum instead of a hurrah.

We were due for a large tax refund this year because of the curious situation of my having my best year ever in business in 2008 and my worst ever in 2009. We were happily surprised at the news, and mailed our return in early March.

The date the IRS Web site told us we could expect our refund came and went. April 15 came and went. At some point, the IRS site changed to a message advising us to call for more information. I can’t remember the outcome of that call, but I remember I wasn’t happy — something like, “If you haven’t heard from us in a few weeks, call back.”

Somewhere around May 7, we got an official letter saying we (by we I mean our well-paid accountant) had failed to file a required form for the Health Savings Account I opened last year. I called said accountant in a panic, and he was nice enough to answer from his month-long vacation in Florida (sigh).

His partner filled out the required 2-page form, which consisted of filling in these amounts on lines 2 through 13, in this order:

2. $1500
3. $3000 (I love the instructions for this line: If you were under age 55 at the end of 2009, and on the first day of every month during 2009, you were, or were considered, an eligible individual with the same coverage, enter $3000 ($5950 for family coverage). All others, see page 4 of  the instructions for the amount to enter. What the…?)
5. $3000
6. $3000
8. $3000
12. $3000
13. $1500

and which changed our tax situation not one iota. I faxed it to the IRS per the letter’s instructions.

I panicked again a week later upon learning that, in order to refinance our mortgage, the bank needed an IRS-verified copy of our 2009 tax returns, which the IRS wouldn’t supply because of the un-filed form. I called the IRS again, talking to an exceedingly, exasperatingly business-like woman who couldn’t verify they’d received my fax, couldn’t give me the number of the service center to call to verify it (they have no number, apparently), and who informed me in no uncertain terms that I was the negligent one for not filing the required form, and by law the IRS had 60 days after receiving said form to act on it and supply our refund.

Fortunately, the bank accepted copies of the IRS letter and my faxed-in form as proof we had filed our taxes, and we were able to refinance on schedule. After yet another call to the IRS and finally receiving verification that it had, in fact, received our fax and was again “processing our return,” we hunkered down to wait the 60 days for our refund. But guess what, it only took 52 days. Score!

I’m told the IRS puts all returns not electronically filed on the back burner, so that’s why ours took so long to resolve. Seems they really want to force taxpayers to e-file. Not sure what we’ll do next year, as our accountant does not e-file (obviously) and likely will not.

So the check’s here, the anticipation is over, and reality is a big fat letdown.

It’s still a big check. But we need to put a hefty chunk of it in the bank to cover September’s real estate taxes and December’s whopping combined homeowner’s-auto insurance bill. (Typically we put away so much a month in a special savings account to cover this, but my business sucks again, and we’re behind in that.)

What’s left of the refund covers the amount we took from savings to pay the closing costs to refinance our mortgage.


Plus, we’ll likely OWE taxes this year, so should also be saving up to pay that bill next April.

So, not the windfall it seemed to be, and any dancing sugarplums we’d been dreaming about — like contributing to our retirement fund or maybe even funding a vacation — have fallen by the wayside. On the bright side, though, we did also get our $5.00 rebate check today from the deck stain we bought at Home Depot. That, at least, is not earmarked for anything. So you know what that means: Dairy Queen, here we come!

Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.
~ Jane Wagner


  1. facie said,

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I really think in my kid’s lifetime, PA will finally give up the liquor stores. Probably not in mine, unfortunately. But the IRS? I just don’t see that going away, ever (or at least not for a couple hundred years). The IRS seems to find people who try to do the right thing and make little mistakes, and then you have those who hide their money or are able to find every tax loophole. Why does it have to be so complicated?

    For the 2008 tax year, I happened to notice that our accountant did not seem to include the $ we paid for childcare. I called him up, he fixed it, and we got an extra 100-plus bucks b/c of it. It is not as if our taxes are THAT complicated (but enough so that we won’t do them anymore). Sigh.

  2. robbie said,

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Where’s the flat tax? Or VAT? Sad thing is, the knuckleheads in DC would want both. Maybe this holiday weekend more Americans should think about what Independence Day really means!

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