The Accountant's Nightmare

Once upon a time in a city far away a tax accountant was copping some exhausted Zs after the April l5th deadline. His mind was blank, having successfully survived another tax season, secure in the knowledge that none of his clients was liable for any major time. Happily he snoozed among the empty coffee containers, dead tunafish sandwiches and duplicate read-outs, knowing that everyone who should had filed for extensions, and that on the morrow, he’d be on vacation for two weeks in Barbados.

Just as he was fast approaching that delicious twilight of oblivion, he was rudely awakened. Instead of his cluttered office, he found himself seated in a nondescript waiting room where a mousy secretary staring at him. “Mr. Clopman,” she said rather frostily, “They’re ready for you now.”

Clutching his familiar battered black briefcase, the accountant followed the assistant functionary down an endless hallway of identical glass doors until they stopped at an open one. Inside behind an olive green desk illuminated by a regulation office tensor lamp sat a thin-lapelled dark-suited gentlemen peering at an overstuffed file.

“You’re aware why we’ve called you in this morning,” the gentlemen smirked.

“No,” Clopman mumbled, his palms stating to sweat.

“No?” The gentleman pushed across a thick sheaf of forms,” You mean you’re not aware that you haven’t filed these in ten years? And you call yourself a tax consultant…” His swivel chair creaked.

In a practiced and professional manner, Clopman rapidly paged through the forms.” Uh, what’s a Schedule 3CD? I never saw one of those before.”

“That’s for Possibly Anticipated Future Income,” the bureaucrat leered.

“And this J1-295A6B for Pocket Change Estimated. What the hell is that?”

“A new one, we’re very proud of that one. The IRS has got to get every penny it can. Aren’t you always telling your clients the same thing?”

Clopman paged through the remainder of the forms, they all looked official enough but why hadn’t he or the Association Seminars tipped him off? Why am I being singled out, he thought.

“I’ve never heard of any of these, it’s––”

“”Well you should have, sir,” the tone of tired annoyance increased, “they are all part of our new program to have taxpayers liable for new taxes before they are enacted; that way they can get a little jump on things. You of all people have no excuse for being in trouble which we calculate to be,” he scanned the printed read-out, “in excess of a million dollars plus change, and of course not including retroactive penalties.” The official absently picked at his nails with a sharp surgical instrument. “It’s best you just stop pretending ignorance and come clean, Mr. Clopman, we’re fair-minded. We’ll even let you keep your car though you realize that officially we’re entitled to that too under projected laws. Think about it — you have five minutes.”

“But don’t I have a right to appeal, and to a jury trial?”

“Sure you do, but if you lose, those costs will be appended to the penalties you’re already liable for. Perhaps you’ll reconsider?”

In a fury Clopman shot out of his chair, “This is crazy! This’s gotta be a dream. I must be in accountant’s hell.”

“Oh no, Mr. Clopman, you’re just being audited, Hell’s on a lower floor.”

With that, the accountant lunged across the desk to throttle the grinning little cipher into unconsciousness, but just as he was about to achieve his end, he awoke clutching a pile of read-outs back in his office. Frantically he searched through all his available reference materials. The voluminous Dictionary of Federal Forms yielded nothing, nor did a panicked call to the 24-hour Hotline the association staffed for such emergencies. Even a search through the minutes of the House Standing Committee on Taxation came up short.

By eight the following morning, Clopman was a wreck. Instead of being on a plane south, he was on the phone to his yuppie son-in-law, a recent graduate from NYU with an MA in Accounting. After turning over the business, the accountant found a job selling aluminum siding in Jersey where all he had to do was file quarterly estimateds and be done with it all.

MORAL: Be of good cheer, tax time is no better for accountants, and sometimes far worse.

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