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Columnists

Greek-American Stories: That Time’s a’comin’, Again

December 10, 2018
Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

When I tell you about ‘that time’, I don’t mean your doctor’s visit, a birthday party or getting your cat to a vet. I mean tax time. Wait! Don’t turn the page! It’s one of those times that comes without fail like death and, yeah, taxes. Everyone has to do it – excepting politicians, drug dealers, homeless and millionaires. If you have trouble with filling out the 1040, Individual Income Tax Return there’s a number on page 3 that you can call. Then, good Luck! I tried it and every time I didn’t understand a line (There’s 79 lines). When someone did pick up, I got, “You again? What is it this time?”

Most times I’m put on hold where I have to listen to music I hate. I believe it is designed to prepare us for when an agent finally answers. I got a violent headache that took the starch out of me.  But, I persevered and I discovered there are certain facts you should be made aware of. So, let me, as a caring friend and citizen, list them for you. But, first, I feel I must impress upon you that if you don’t file your income taxes truthfully, give a false address, or list a dead uncle as dependant, be prepared to wear an orange suit that is completely unbecoming. Then, if you become belligerent and still refuse to own up to your civic duties you could be occupying a cold cell and be introduced to a bunk buddy, Vito (the exterminator) Dejesus.

First, you must always place your current information in the right place at the top of the page, ‘Filing status’. Then, refrain from listing your dog, cat, parrot or goldfish as exemptions. Do not list a business that failed but never existed. They really do check on that. In answering each line, deductions and additions, be aware that the tax examiners have no sense of humor. Neither does Vito. In fact, personnel are chosen for their resemblance to Bela Lagosi, Vincent Price or the Hulk. You must, also, be made aware of the fact that our government needs our money in order to buy certain items like computers, fax machines, cell phones, and other state of the art equipment that would cost us several hundred dollars but for them, millions. You must never, ever ask for proof or receipts for those items! When I had questioned, most politely, about the costs of one of their machines I was told, in a very definite tone, “next question!”

All we are required to do is send in the money. Don’t quibble or try to make a deal.

When I informed the tax examiner I’d called several times before completing the forms and that I might be a little late sending in the cash, he said, “I understand. I’ll just let Vito know you’ll be a little late.” I told you they have no sense of humor.

So, in closing I beg you to try and understand what is required of you. Your duty is to send in that bag of money to help erase the national debt. (A check is very acceptable if, God forbid, it doesn’t bounce). Then, relax because all you have to do is worry about your personal debt – the one the tax examiner has no interest in. If you have any questions or you decide you don’t think you should be responsible for the national debt just ignore the whole thing and call your travel agent and book a trip to any remote village in Uzbekistan. When you get there, tell them I recommended the place. And, say, “Hi,” to my cousin there.

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