TITLE: The IRS to the Rescue! AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 09, 2005 10:33 AM DESC: In 20+ years I had not made a material in my taxes. The first time I did, I erred $2000 to my detriment. But the IRS took good care of me. ----- BODY: How's that for an unlikely title? In the Bible, Jesus takes some heat for befriending sinners and tax collectors. I'm not sure that the modern view of the tax collector is much different from the common one in Jesus's time. We don't have to deal with individuals overcollecting and skimming the difference, but we do have to deal with the IRS, known in the public mind mostly for a bloated, byzantine tax code and bad phone advice. But I have a good story to tell about the IRS. It seems that I made a mistake on my federal tax return this year, one that cost me $2000. The IRS noticed, corrected the error, and increased my refund accordingly. You see, I am one of those dinosaurs who still does his own taxes by hand -- pencil and paper, with folders of documents. I'm well organized and have some training in accounting, and I still enjoy the annual ritual of filling out the tax forms. In over twenty years, I do not think I have made any but the most trivial errors on a tax return. I check and double-check my work to be sure it's right before I submit. There may have been cases where I was not aggressive enough in claiming a deduction, or maybe too aggressive (though that's less likely). But the numbers I submitted were pretty much the right ones. This year, though, I forgot to claim my Child Tax Credit, on Line 51 of Form 1040. I correctly recorded my daughters' information on Page 1, but somehow wrote in $0 for credit, when it should have been $2000. That reduced my refund by, you guessed it, $2000. I don't honestly remember how I made this mistake, whether on my work or in transcribing the final answers. But it was there in black and white. I am a bit embarrassed to admit this to readers who may now question my reliability on matters of great professional import. But in the interest of fairness, I want to give credit where credit is due. Most of us take the time to complain when the world treats us ill, but we usually forget to take the time to rejoice, at least publicly, when the world treats us well. The result is that an organization like the IRS, which has the thankless job of collecting our hard-earned money to support the workings of the republic, ends up with a thankless reputation, too. But today I can say "thank you" for a job well done. I'm glad that the IRS did its job well and rescued me from a costly oversight. Apple is probably happy, too, because the larger refund means that I can now afford a higher-end PowerBook than was originally planning to buy! -----