Expert IRS Advice from US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Dear Tax Guys:
I've had a lot on my mind lately, and when I was going through some old receipt boxes in my filing cabinet I suddenly realized I haven't paid my income taxes for the past 8 years. Am I in trouble? Please help!
Forgetful in Fort Worth
Here at the IRS, we realize that many well-meaning taxpayers like you can be distracted by various family illnesses, baseball pennant races, political campaigns, and so on. The rules for late filing can be surprisingly flexible if you have the right qualifying circumstances. According to IRS guidelines, you are eligible for the 306(b)(19) "I Forgot" amnesty if the following applies:
(1) Your total adjusted gross income in the "I Forgot" years was equal to or greater than $8,528,000; and
(2) You are a nominee to head a cabinet-level federal agency.
If you answered "yes" to (2), or both (1) and (2), then you are in the clear. If you answered "yes" to (1) but "no" to (2), mail 10% of the total to the Democratic National Committee and request a cabinet appointment. If you answered "no" to both, then I'm afraid you are shit out of luck. Turn yourself into your local IRS authorities, who will assist you in computing appropriate penalties, interest, and parole terms.
PS - If you have any money left, buy a few jars of that 'Ginkgo Biloba' supplement from Walgreens. I hear it really helps with memory problems!
Dear Tax Guys:
I have invested in a number of homes - including a townhouse in Washington, a couple of vacation properties in Puerto Rico, nine or ten rent controlled apartments in Manhattan, blah blah blah. I've been claiming all of them as a primary residence for tax purposes since I can't decide which one I like best. Sometimes my wife invites friends or other people to use our homes for a weekend or a year or two, and sometimes they'll leave a couple thousand on the end table to cover fridge beer, condiment usage, etc.
Anyhoo, long story short, the IRS now says I have to count this as "rental income." I mean, WTF? Like I told the auditor, the whole thing is my wife's deal and she never told me about it because she only speaks Puerto Rican. This only seemed to make him angrier. What should I do?
Nomad in Harlem, Washington, San Juan, and Martinique
It is imperative that you act at once to straighten out your complicated tax situation. First, locate a safe U.S. Congressional district and get elected. Second, get re-elected 15 or 20 times and get appointed to chair a powerful subcommittee. Third, hire a politically connected attorney and twist arms to appoint friendly colleagues to your ethics investigation panel. It might seem like a hassle now, but once you are cleared you'll be free to enjoy your many homes in peace.
PS - New York District 16 looks promising!
Dear Tax Guys:
I recently received a letter from the IRS stating that I owe $2,366 in back taxes for 2004-6. I also read that the federal government is planning to spend $1 trillion to stimulate the US economy, which works out to $3300 per person. I have four dependents so I figure we have $16,500 coming to us. Instead of paying you the $2,366, can you just send me the $13,134 difference?
Breadwinner in Orlando
Unfortunately your stimulus is also subject to the new 115% unearned stimulus income surcharge, or $18,895. Please send us the $5,761 difference. Make sure to affix proper postage.
Dear Tax Guys:
I am a Senator from a small Northeastern state. A few years ago I met a man at a fundraising dinner whom I'll call "Angelo." Although he was swarthy, Angelo was also charming and persuasive and loved showering me with little thoughtful gifts like a beautiful mortgage he made himself. I guess you could say that I got "swept off my feet," and I eventually let him have his way. Don't get me wrong, I'm not normally the kind of Senator who "puts out," but I was lost in the moment and felt that Angelo and I had something special.
The trouble is when I woke up, there was $200 billion in taxpayer money missing from the nightstand and Angelo was gone. I feel like I should really report it to the police but I don't want Angelo to get in trouble. I'm also worried that they might start asking embarrassing questions, and I might end up having to pay taxes on Angelo's gifts. I feel like I'm being taken advantage of twice! Do you have any advice?
Chris in New Haven
Don't beat yourself up over a momentary weakness, because even the most chaste members of Congress have succumbed to the occassional one-baillout fling. Keep reminding yourself that (1) the $200 billion you lost wasn't yours in the first place, and (2) you're no more of a slut than the rest of us.
PS - can you send me Angelo's phone number?