Once again, we wait as the taxmen and women cometh

Richard G. Carter | 10/12/2012, 4:17 p.m.
"There's plenty for the few, but nothing for the plenty"--Sean Penn, "The Assassination of Richard...
Colony Records was my place for original Black R&B

"Everything requires the proper forms, which we stock," she continued, "and a lot of people ask for our help in filling them out. While we are not permitted to go line by line, we give guidance and point out mistakes if they bring in completed forms."

"And it's all over the counter?" I asked.

"That's right," the seasonal employee said, "although we do put out a table with extra forms the last couple of weeks before the mid-April filing deadline. We have dozens of different kinds, and they're all in demand."

Glancing through the wall racks that were chock-full, I believed it. Of course, I helped myself to a few extras for my own annual mathematical brain-twisting.

The supervisor said they stock forms for income and sales taxes, withholding, partnership and corporation taxes, estate, gift and real property taxes, and many more--along with detailed instructions on how to fill them out.

The supervisor ran three businesses before joining the department and said there's a lot of activity in tax implications of early retirement, as well as with people who move in and out of state and couples who work in different states. She and the seasonal employee also help senior citizens in the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program.

"And how about unusual experiences?" I asked. "You know, the kind of weird goings-on that we occasionally laugh at in comedy movies or on television?"

"Well, a Garment District worker paid with his W-2 sewn to the form instead of stapled," said the supervisor. "A wheelchair-bound woman in labor was on her way to the hospital to have triplets and a man invented a Social Security number in front of us." Whoa!

I asked the ladies for their best advice for taxpayers. You know, some practical tips for making the gut-wrenching annual task a little less taxing and a little more relaxing.

"Keep detailed records, don't be afraid to ask if you think the state has made an error and file on time," the supervisor emphasized, "even if the money to pay isn't immediately available to you." She was very insistent on this point.

"You can always arrange a payment schedule," she added. "Filing late isn't worth the heavy penalties and interest you'd end up paying."

I say amen to that, as one who has been down that road and does not want to return. And that's the name of that tune.