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The evil day

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Apr 15, 2003

On this date each year I recall the time when I received a threatening letter from the IRS, saying that I had failed to report $810,000 in income for the previous year.

I wondered, for a moment, whether possibly I had won a lottery, and nobody had told me. If someone could show me to that $816,200, I was willing to pay taxes on it. But it certainly wasn't in my bank account.

So I called the friendly IRS office, and explained that I had accurately reported all my income, and that $816,200 was a figment of someone's imagination. The perky IRS agent quickly replied, "Can you prove that you didn't have another $816,200 in income?"

Of course I couldn't prove it. Could you?

My story has a happy ending-- more or less. Rummaging through my records, I found a receipt for $81.62 in income, which had been duly included in my original return. Apparently a quirky computer (or more likely, a sleepy data-entry clerk) had moved the decimal point four spaces to the right. After only 6 or 7 phone calls, I convinced the IRS that this error accounted for my phantom windfall, and I did not owe additional taxes.

Happy Tax Day!

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