by Rod Bartchy
starts out innocently enough. Im a customer
service representative with the IRS, and Bill
Jones calls in to ask about the status of his
mothers tax return. Seems Nilda Jones died
last year and son Bill says that he is the
executor of the estate. I put him through the
usual third degree to establish his identity,
including his mothers high school prom date,
her favorite tuna casserole recipe, and an
excerpt of her 1979 fan letter to William Shatner.
(We have everything on file about you just as you
kidding about the letter and prom date, but I
made the casserole later. It rocked. Bill checks
out as the executor.
Then I ask him
the usual questions about the tax return itself.
Names, filing status, birth date, etc. He has all
the answers. Now we can talk.
mom is deceased but the tax return has a married
filing joint status. No problem. Its
perfectly legal in the year of death for the
widower to file with the deceased.
I notice that
the widower on the return has the same last name
as the son. Theyre both named Bill Jones.
Ok, I guess the son doesnt use Junior in
his name. Who knows maybe being called Junior got
him teased mercilessly as a child. Hes a
good son, though, to be helping out his grieving
dad with these tax issues.
I take a deep
dive into the infinite sea of the IRS data base.
Sad to say the refund is frozen which means we
have it but were not going to give it to
you. There are lots of reasons for this. So many
that the IRS established has 52 freeze codes. For
example, Bill could have an F minus freeze
for filing a frivolous return.
not the code on Nildas return, so I do more
research and find a cryptic reference to a
duplicate filing TIN. Thats IRS speak for
using the same Social Security number twice. The
IRS frowns on that. Matter of fact we frown on a
lot of things, hence freeze codes on you if you
make the slightest mistake.
supposed to put Bill on hold while I research his
case, but I like keeping the fish on the line
while I mutter things like
not good or let a dispirited sigh ghost the
line. Sometimes the guilty ones get nervous and
cough up a clue. Sure enough, Bill Jones mentions
that his tax return with his wife seems to be on
hold too. Bingo!
That gives me
all the information I need to reach the
inevitable but still startling conclusion.
There is no
grieving widower. Bill Jones has filed a Married
Filing Joint return with his deceased mother
Nilda. Not only that, he has gone a step further
and also filed a tax return with his wife Loama,
who I can hear ranting incoherently in the
Two different Joint returns for the same year.
Of course it
could be that Bill thinks hes actually
married both his mother and his wife. Modern
pharmaceuticals have unintended cognitive side
effects. So I take it slow. I counsel Bill on the
philosophical underpinnings behind the Joint
filing status. First, that one has to actually be
married, not just related, to file jointly.
Second, that however popular polygamy may be in
his locale, the IRS does ask that you pick one
wife for filing purposes.
Bill takes it
well. He immediately blames it on the lawyers for
the estate. They told him to file it that way, he
insists. Those bastards, we both agree. But what
to do, now that he filed two conflicting returns.
Why, duck the
issue of course!
consideration there is only one option
a transfer to Advanced Accounts! Thats
code for Customer Service Reps who, unlike me,
are fully trained to deal with this type of
pleased. Advanced Accounts. Hell get to
talk to the real pros. Im pleased too. I
can get rid of the call, take on something more
prosaic next, maybe a screamer with three barking
Dobermans, two eviction notices, one frozen
refund, and a partridge in a non-deductible pear
Accounts. Theyll just love Bill. They may
just slap a couple more freeze codes on him.
Bill will not
love them. But? Not my problem.
aliens landed in my back yard last year and Id
like to claim them as dependents
Here we go