Weekend Wanderer: No, the Taxes Still Aren’t Filed


weekend wanderer

When we left Willie, she hadn’t filed tax returns since 2017. 

Willie and I tried — with an utter lack of success — to access Willie’s IRS account online. 

In an article from The Washington Post, an elder law attorney explained that accessing financial accounts of elderly parents is a federal crime unless you have their consent. 

While I have Willie’s consent — blessing, even — I’ll never sleep thinking readers lurk beyond these pages, reporting me to the federal government. 

Also, wouldn’t it figure that just when I’m trying to send Willie to jail, I’d wind up there myself?  

Not only had I failed to obtain information from the IRS, but Thanksgiving’s approach heralded the two-month anniversary of my request for tax documents from Social Security and the military. 

I’d say no documents arrived, but that would be inaccurate.  

Any documents I request, of course, get mailed directly to Willie.  

Willie, who upon receipt of the letters of administration for Indy’s estate, tucked them in her Weight Watchers diary, then piled junk mail, old greeting cards, and an unread book on top. 

So I have no idea if the tax documents I requested made it to Willie’s.  

I do know mail delivery at the Temple of Doom is two o’clock sharp.  

Having had more documents than the Pentagon Papers mailed to Willie, I’ve tried calling Willie at ten minutes after two, listening as she sorts her mail. 

And never when I call has the mail I need arrived. 

But when I go to Willie’s after my phone call — well.  

That’s when I find Indy’s letters of administration suffocating under calorie counts and flyers for car warranties. 

So the tax documents I requested could be tucked in the program from my college graduation ceremony — which sits by Willie’s front door, so she can offer it to me each time I go to the Temple of Doom. 

Or they could be in the file labeled “Chrysler Concorde.”

That car didn’t survive the aughts but sure. Let’s keep its paperwork in perpetuity. 

Or the tax documents could be in a grocery bag in Willie’s closet, keeping that photo album with the broken spine and the old keyboard with the missing “O” company. 

So I just gave up.  

Not on the taxes. The me who exists on the other side of Willie’s eventual trip to Marion’s bar in Nepal will be angry with the me of today for not dealing with Willie’s years of unfiled tax returns. 

What I gave up was my documents search. I just didn’t care anymore. If the absolute worst that could happen was Willie going to jail, well. 

I was fine with that. 

I’ve made that clear, right? 

I mean, let’s be honest. Willie would be to her prison what Red was to her prison on Orange Is the New Black.

And we all know I’m going to jail for accessing her financial accounts. 

And we all know I’ll be Willie’s roommate. 

The universe thinks of itself as being just that funny. 

Once I forfeited the document search, I put in a call to the accountant. I was as ready as I’d ever be to alchemize my hodgepodge of tax documents into valid tax returns. 

We started with a phone consultation. I gave her a condensed, less snarky version of the story I’ve told you over the last month.  

She gave me a few suggestions, her reassurance Willie was unlikely to go to jail, and scheduled my appointment.  

One suggestion from the accountant was to call Social Security. Social Security, the accountant thought, could tell me how to obtain those coveted Social Security tax documents.  

Yeah. I felt stupid for not thinking of that myself.  

I called.  

And was told I could get the tax documents simply by going to my local Social Security office with Willie. 

Huh. You don’t say. 

I have thought, these last few weeks, how best to describe the Social Security office.  

Every one of the 50-plus seats in the waiting room was occupied. As of one mind, each person in that waiting room looked at me. 

I walked in chipper, eagerly anticipating the expeditious processing of the tax documents. 

But there must be a rule somewhere, a rule banning joy from the Social Security waiting room.  

They should really have a sign. 

And it was here that I did the easiest math I’ve ever performed in my life.  

Tens of people looking anything but social or secure plus physically infirm Willie could not possibly equal rapid receipt of tax documents that day. 

So I called Social Security again. Was there a way — not by mail, not in person — any possible way I could get those tax documents? 

Sure, the agent said. I could call Social Security with Willie on the line.  

Um, what? 

All this time — mailing Willie’s Social Security number and credit card information, waiting months for a response, schlepping Willie to the Philadelphia Social Security office — and all I had to do was call Social Security from the comfort of Willie’s home? 

Prison, I’m starting to think, might not be so bad after all. 

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