Write It Off

by

Laura Garcia Cannon

As I sit down this week to actually work on taxes, I dread the pile in front of me. A box full of receipts, stubs, W2s, mortgage interest statements, etc… it’s hard to imagine a year of our tax life in this box. Why do I not feel like sorting through it? Maybe because I’ll most likely be paying out more to Uncle Sam this year than he cares to give me. Anyway, the annual ritual of taxes is upon us once again, and it actually made me think back to the first year Brent and I were married. Combining our incomes, buying our first house, actually ‘itemizing’ together for the first time we went to see a tax specialist recommended by a co-worker. (For the purpose of this blog by the way, anyone mentioned from this point on will have their names changed to protect the innocent, or guilty for that matter). We’ll call her “Trish the Tax Lady.” Young and naive we laid out our W2s in front of her, our union dues, agent fees, the small things we understood we could claim for a consultation we set up prior to hiring her.

“Wow, you guys should ask for a raise” was the first thing she said to us. “You know, that guy Peter you work with? He makes $$$$$, you should ask for a raise. Oh yeah and Mary, she makes more than you too. She makes $$$$$$.”

We were shocked she just blurted out what our co workers made! She then went on to look at our mortgage interest papers. “Geez, Mark has a bigger house than you guys, you know Mark right? He works at the competition? He bought a big house. He’s got two kids. I told him he could write off their bikes,” she exclaimed.

“Uh, excuse me? Write off their bikes?” we were feeling uneasy.

Trish answered us with confidence as she brushed off a small crumb of the McDonald’s hamburger she was eating off a notebook, “Yeah, I figure, Mark gets stressed at work right? His job in television is tough right? So, when Mark gets home from his long stressful job the last thing he needs is two kids running around the house all crazy, I mean he needs his sanity right? So, I told Mark when your kids are outside playing, don’t you feel calmer, and a calmer you would be a more restful you, so we can write off the bikes the kids ride so you can be calm and do a good job. It’s a business expense those bikes.”

“Excuse me?” Trish looked me up and down as I questioned her write offs.

“Hey sure Laura, I mean what do you do to keep calm? Go shopping, get a facial? How about your toes?” she looked down to inspect my feet. “ooh that’s a pretty color, let’s write it off.”

“You actually think you could or even would write off my nail polish?” we had already started gathering our things.

“Sure, I mean having nice toes makes you feel good right? Feeling good about yourself could make you more confident in your job right? Being more confident could make you ask better questions interviewing right? So, I can write off your nail polish. Maybe even the nail file.” Trish was actually serious, and we were seriously scared.

We thanked her for her time, and said we’d decided to go in a different direction. “Yeah, an honest direction” we said in the car. Trish actually thought you could write off anything, and had this bizarre way of rationalizing it all. It really opened our eyes at who you should trust. We went on to find an honest CPA who is trusted and true. As for Trish, we just wrote her off as one of those life experiences… and then started to think about how we should ask for that raise….

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

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