CITIZEN DIARY: I take the kids to a sale at a UA-area sports shop which perhaps no longer fits into the McConcept of the place and is vacating its space.
Plunk money into the meter, grab donuts to placate kids, head over to spend/save money. We are bound by the clock for a haircut appointment, but are talented at spending money fast. We rush in, buy skates, dash back. Half a block away we spot it: parking ticket. "Can't be, maybe it's broken," I whimper, cringing at the $15 ticket. "There goes all the money you saved at the sale," reminds the roving conscience known as my son.
Like late night spies we go back after dark and find that we can swing the meter around on its neck. "That doesn't mean it's broken," points out helpful husband. I gear up. The person who answers the phone at the city is pleasant, courteous. "We'll check it and have an answer to you before you need to send in the fine," Yeah, right. I make a note to call. But a response comes in the mail saying the meter was out of order and the violation was dismissed. Yessss.
Next day: The mailbox yields a letter from the Arizona Department of Economic Security. "You've been chosen at random. Audit." Just kill me now.
I kept the books for my husband's business for about 10 years and despised it. So when he joined the ranks of the gainfully employed last year we closed up shop, finalized the books this April and said adios. The rest of the month was for reflection on issues of spring: killer bees, roach motels, raking gravel.
My mother got audited at the family motel by the IRS in the early '70s. The agents came to our house in dark suits looking serious. Ma kept going out into her small, tidy office sandwiched between the garage and a motel room, bringing out receipts. She didn't owe any money. "I didn't get any back either," she remembers.
DES man comes to the house with his boss and goes over my math skills. Guilt surfaces. I should have put the accounting program on the computer last year. I should have added the figures one more time. I should have been nicer to animals, shown less greed, forgave more, done penance lashing W-2s across my back.
"We have a few questions to ask you." That's it, I'm going to taxpayer hell where I'll have to read tax booklets all day. "Everything looks fine except you didn't declare this employee bonus." I owed $1.38 in tax with 10 cents interest. Yessss.
One problem: "Since you didn't pay it in the appropriate quarter you owe a $35 penalty." Of course I do.
Tally: Saved $17 on roller blades. Parking ticket: $15. Up $2. Dismiss ticket. Back up $17. Get audited. Pay $36.48. Down $19.48. Spring is wrapping up. I send DES their money. Car overheats on Oracle Road. $63.65 for new thermostat. Pass Go, blood pressure rising, the summer has begun.
Pick a card, warriors.
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