A new kind of visit to the IRS

July 01, 1998|By David Grimes

News item: A bill up for a vote in Congress promises a kinder, gentler IRS.

AUDITOR: Thank you for coming in this morning, Mr. Fribbish. Could I get you a cup of coffee? A danish?

Taxpayer: No, thank you. Listen, about those charitable deductions . . .

Auditor: Please, Mr. Fribbish. We didn't call you in here to question your charitable deductions. If you say you gave $30,000 to the Society for the Prevention of Cats, even though you claim an income of only $25,000, we're willing to believe you. How's that chair, by the way? Is it comfortable? Here, why don't you sit in mine.

Taxpayer: Oh, I get it. You're setting me up. As soon as I stand up to switch chairs then that's the signal for the thugs to barge through the door and beat me in the kidneys with rubber truncheons.

Auditor: You have quite an imagination, Mr. Fribbish. Let me assure you that the days of the bad old IRS are gone. No more rubber truncheons, no more threats, no more holding people up by their ankles and shaking them until the money falls out of their pockets. We're here to serve the taxpayer and make sure that the process of filing one's tax form is as rich and rewarding an experience as possible. Champagne?

Taxpayer: Well, maybe just a little.

Auditor (pouring from a bottle of Dom Perignon): You see, Mr. Fribbish, for a long time the IRS was an arrogant, abusive agency that you challenged at your own risk. Our favorite targets were the poor, the elderly or the undereducated.

Taxpayer: Mind if I take off my jacket and loosen my tie?

Auditor: Not at all! Perhaps you'd like to change into one of our LTC complimentary fluffy robes and embossed slippers. We give them away free to every taxpayer who comes in for an audit.

Taxpayer: Why, thank you. Don't mind if I do.

Auditor: But all that's changed, Mr. Fribbish. Today's IRS is here to serve the taxpayer, not harass him. We want people to pay only as much as they're comfortable with. And if April 15 rolls around and you find yourself a little short, no problem. We'll carry you as long as you need, interest free.

Taxpayer: What about all those tax forms?

Auditor: Let me let you in on a little secret, Mr. Fribbish: The IRS never understood the tax forms, either. More champagne?

Taxpayer: Don't mind if I do.

Auditor: From now on, if there's an instruction or a form or a schedule you don't understand, just give us a call and we'll send a tax lawyer out to your house -- absolutely free, of course -- to help you sort the thing out.

Taxpayer: What about records and receipts? You people were always badgering us for that stuff.

Auditor: Wasn't that annoying? As if the average U.S. citizen didn't have better things to do than keep track of every little $10,000 business expense. Today's IRS isn't going to nickel-and-dime you to death over that stuff. If you say you needed to buy a Learjet to take you back and forth to your lawn-mowing job, then, by gum, we believe you. Are you sure you aren't hungry? Our chef makes a mean pate.

Taxpayer: Come to think of it, I am feeling a bit peckish.

Auditor (refilling taxpayer's champagne glass): Your wish is my command, Mr. Fribbish. Is there anything else I can get you?

Taxpayer: Actually, I was wondering if you could audit me again next week.

Auditor: Consider it done.

David Grimes is a columnist for the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune.

Pub Date: 7/01/98

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