It’s the most wonderful time of year: Tax Season

For the year 2008, I was a teacher in Maryland and working part-time at a wine bar; I received nearly $1,200 back from my taxes. Pretty awesome, right? Well, imagine my surprise when I received only $88 back from my 2009 taxes! I worked at four places in Boston over the course of my first year here and I made significantly LESS money than I did in Maryland. But honestly, that wasn’t even the worst of it. The most challenging thing about filing my taxes was the actual filing process.

My “full-time” job was at a fine wine shop where I occasionally had to conduct cashier duties. Some of these duties included the dreadful sale of lotto. Lotto is an activity wherein shaking old people, local grocery store butchers and scraggly drunks try to win millions by spending their unemployment checks on pieces of paper. Members of the local government call it a “tax on the poor”, I call it a tax on the stupid. Anyway, one of the lotto frequenters was this elderly gentleman who looked like that crazy-eyed guy from Caddy Shack.

Just add about 50 lbs and here's our perpetrator!

He would frequently come in and talk about how his son would be perfect for me (although the kiddo was still in high school!) and how he had a great finance business, the usual. Well, it was time for me to do my taxes and I wanted to support the “little guy” instead of frequenting an H&R Block type of establishment. The elderly gentleman, we’ll call him Charles, kept talking to me from in front of the lotto machine – while scratching tickets – about how he would “give me a good deal” on my taxes. The kicker though was how he kept promising that he was a good guy and commenting on how the store manager knew him. What the hell does that mean? If I had any sense at all, I would have taken a hint from his money spending habits and crazy self-promotion. Honestly, I just wanted to get my taxes filed and put my money towards a trip to France. For some reason, I truly believed I would receive enough dough to travel! Dumb.

Charles and I met at a local Starbucks to speak about my tax situation. I thought it was odd that we didn’t meet at his office, but Charles said something about it “being easier to meet somewhere in the middle”. I worked two  minutes away from the Starbucks and he allegedly lived around the area. A bit confusing, no? Well, when we met at the coffee shop, Charles told me I would be receiving around $700 from my returns. Not enough to travel, but enough to pay off some debt and maaaaaybe buy a new pair of designer jeans! I gave up my tax stubs and Charles promised to be in touch. I held out my hand for a shake but HE KISSED ME ON THE CHEEK! This is when I started grossly regretting my decision to working with this ofe. How unprofessional! Shake my hand, you buffoon, I’m a working woman not a lunching lady.

My situation did not improve. Charles and I had agreed to discuss his findings over the phone and arrange for me to sign the necessary paperwork. However, for three days after our scheduled phone call, I could not for the life of me get a hold of the man! To be honest, I was scared. My private information, tax numbers and money was the hands of this lunatic and I had no idea where he was! I left several messages, emailed him and could think of nothing else. After nearly a week, I told the manager at my wine shop I was using Charles for tax services in the hopes that maybe he could help me reach Charles. Instead he said, “Oh no! Are you serious? That guy’s nuts.”

Great. I started to panic and had begun to think of creative ways in which to reach Charles, when he finally returned my phone call.

“Hey, Laura! Sorry, I’ve been really busy – enter some lame excuse -,” he stammered. I snapped at him. I told him I wanted to see him immediately and he needed to bring all my tax papers as I wanted to “look at them”. We agreed to meet at my place of business not only because it was convenient but because I didn’t want to be alone with the loon. He came into the shop the next day and tried to be sweet with me; I wasn’t having it.

“Did you bring my taxes?” I inquired, and walked from around the counter. No kisses this time, pal! When I saw that Charles had my file and I told him I was taking my business elsewhere. “I haven’t been able to get ahold of you for nearly a week and I don’t feel comfortable allowing you to handle my finances anymore.” I snatched the paper work out of his hands and thanked him for his time. He had drawn all over my legal documents with red, blue and green ink!

All over my taxes!

“Why did you do this?” I demanded. Charles fumbled out a response about just checking his math… all over legal documents!  Again, I thanked him for his time and told him I was taking my business elsewhere. Charles had a fit! “Well, you owe me for all the work I’ve done!”

“What work have you done? You’ve just colored on my tax documents and haven’t returned any of my phone calls!”

“W-well, I wrote down these notes,” he said, referencing a paper half-full of chicken scratch. Half of the notes were from him trying to figure out if I had insurance or not. “You’ll probably only get back a hundred bucks.”

I handed him back the rubbish and maintained a strong grip on the folder of my taxes. I then reminded him about how he had originally said I’d receive around seven hundred dollars. He denied EVER saying that but the damage was done, I was over Charles and his shenanigans.

“Fine! Well, I need to-to look in the file… to make sure I didn’t leave anything in there.” Fat chance, pal! I told Charles there was nothing more in my file for him and again, thanked him for his time. He bumbled out of the shop in a huff but I didn’t care, I had my documents back! I’m sad to say the lesson I learned was to watch who you trust with your finances. I honestly wanted to support a local business man but I nearly got dooped!

So, go to H&R Block, people, or if you can manage, complete your taxes online. I didn’t receive my $700, I didn’t even receive $100. After paying both the H&R person for his services and Taxachusetts for letting me live here, I came away with $88. Please, be wary of who you give you information out to; I learned this the hard way. Maybe you won’t.

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One Response to “It’s the most wonderful time of year: Tax Season”

  1. Ann T Says:

    Next year try filing with H&R Block online…you can file for free under these conditions FAQ* http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=220412,00.html I filed with this last year…its really easy just as long as you have all your tax forms with you, even 1099’s and if you have any HSA tax forms. You will need all of your receipts and back ups if you get audited and from now on everyone will need to be especially careful. I got around $900 from federal and around $200 from state. I hope to get around the same for 2010 but it will probably not happen.

    H&R Block online link

    https://taxes.hrblock.com/hrblock/login/Loginregistration.hrbx?TaxYear=2010&FV=F&HT=F

    Its free* for Federal and about $30 for state.

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