frenchtown fiber

Chris Mundy and Kate House try to make art while navigating the crap life throws at them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tax Scare

We went to Cape May this weekend, which was a lot of fun as always. The weather was good old fashioned New Jersey hot and humid. We swam in the very warm Atlantic ocean water. We rode bicycles to the more secluded Higbee beach on the bay side. There were jelly fish all over the place, so we could not go in, but people bring dogs to that beach, and it was fun to watch them splash around in the water. We shopped at an antique store, and I picked up a few things, namely an old flour sifter that goes with my ancient utensil collection, and a darning egg that goes with my old sewing tools collection. We drank boatloads of wine and ate very good food.

When we returned, as if returning wasn't bad enough, we had a piece of correspondence from the New Jersey Division of Taxation. I was expecting a refund of $14, but instead had a bill for $3, 295. My first reaction was naturally terror, but then I thought, this has to be a mistake. I looked at my copy of my tax return, and there was a mistake alright, my own. There are about 12 lines where you repeat the number that reflects the taxes that came out of your paycheck all year. I accidentally put that number in a wrong line, namely the use tax line. That is where you fess up that you bought a large ticket item in another state and you are telling them the tax that you would like to cough up. I guess no one worried about the missing form that is supposed to go with this, or that this use tax ended up being the exact same amount as the income taxes we paid all year.

So, I got ready to write a letter explaining and send it certified mail and hope and pray that they are able to see this obvious mistake and fix it and we won't have to hire a lawyer. Joe said, "Why don't you just try to call them?" but I figured it was a waste of time. No one answers the phone anyway.

Long story short, I did call just for the heck of it, and a person answered the phone and said, "How may I help you?" I nearly fell off my chair. I explained the situation, and she said, "One moment, I'll transfer you to John." John answers the phone on the first ring. I explain the situation, he looks up my records, says, yes, he can see what I did, assures me that I am not the first person to ever do this, and proceeds to fix it on the spot!!!!!!! State government in New Jersey has a long standing reputation for being horrifyingly ineffectual and corrupt, so I had to tell this happy story. I am still amazed.

1 comment:

The Idaho Beauty said...

Since moving back to Idaho, I've been amazed at how down right cheerful and helpful the state employees are. From the DMV gal who rummaged around under the counter to find a license plate with an easy number to remember, to the woman on the other end of the phone who patiently answered all my questions about applying for a tax number and registering a business name, and most recently, the woman who fielded my call about a letter saying I owed more tax than I paid, they have all been almost overly nice, putting the stereo-type of the surley government worker in question. As for my tax error, it was definitely on their end, and I too was ready to write a letter when I decided just to call. My contact immediately saw the problem and changed it on the spot.

Isn't it great to have your faith in humanity restored?