Tough Tax Questions

23 01 2008

I work for the nation’s largest tax firm. I’m currently in my 11th year with them and my 2nd as an office manager. This year I’m managing two offices. Yes, it’s a challenge. I love my job! I work with great people and I love to help people too.

Needless to say, we get LOTS of calls this time of year from people asking many questions about lots of different tax topics. Little strikes fear into the hearts of the bravest souls quicker than the three little letters I R S. Tax laws change all the time, and one of our biggest challenges is to stay on top of those changes, interpret the “legalese” they’re written in, and most importantly, be able to explain them to our clients so they understand the potential impact to their situation.

Some questions are fairly straight-forward and easy to answer. “What’s the standard deduction for a couple filing a joint return?” “What’s the deadline to file?” “How much can I earn before I’m required to file a return?” I don’t even have to look those answers up anywhere. They roll off my tongue like lyrics to my favorite song.  Others, however, are another story. “My W2 says I made $27,332.27 this year.  How much will my refund be?”  “How much Earned Income Credit will I get if I claim my kids?”

My favorite callers are the ones that start the conversation with: “my friend said________________.” Or better yet, “my friend and I made the same amount of money. How come his refund is bigger?” One of my all time favorites is “Why do I have to pay income taxes anyway?”

Today though, I had to struggle to keep from busting out laughing when a caller said “my friend and I were talking and he assured me that because my DOG had cancer last year and I had to pay a lot of money for surgery and treatments for him, that I could claim these medical expenses on my tax return this year.  Where exactly do I list these expenses on my return?” My first response wanted to be “right under the line where you put his Social Security Number,” but of course I couldn’t say that. I had to politely explain that contrary to his otherwise knowledgeable friends’ assurance, he could NOT claim any medical expenses for his beloved dog (unless it was a registered service animal).  I’d really love to meet his friend sometime.  I want to see for myself that this friend is truly capable of human speech and only has two legs.



3 responses

24 01 2008

Funny story! I don’t claim to know much about doing my taxes, but I know that my pets don’t count as dependents!

Welcome to the world of blogging. I just got started, as well. Addictive, isn’t it?

24 01 2008

Welcome and thanks for posting!

Yes, it’s very addictive. Both reading and writing. I’m not very good at the writing part yet as I’m not very confident that I really have anything the world wants to read about from me. I’m trying to focus on just doing this for me though and not “the world.”

You’d laugh out loud (and cry some too) at some of the questions I get asked about taxes. It’s never boring at work that’s for sure!


24 01 2008

I know what you mean about writing on the blog. I was having a conversation just today with my good friend, Kat, about that very issue. I find it a temptation to try to be witty and funny for the sake of entertaining anyone who might read my blog when really, I just need to be myself. I don’t consider myself to be as witty as some bloggers out there but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say.
Nice talking with you!

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