Berger’s Burg: Accountant’s move yields taxing times for writer

Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

A fine is a tax for doing something wrong; income tax is a fine for doing well. – Bill O’Reilly

April 15 is the deadline for submitting your income...

By Alex Berger

This is the time of year when taxpayers need additional help – like an orthopedic checkbook. - Dr. Phil

A fine is a tax for doing something wrong; income tax is a fine for doing well. – Bill O’Reilly

April 15 is the deadline for submitting your income tax return. It is a date that continually lives in infamy in the minds of all the hardcore procrastinators who wait until the final day to file. It is a mind-boggling time for these late filers in Queens who will begin emptying their closets, pantries and tool chests, desperately trying to locate their 2003 financial records.

They will rush to their accountants, with W-2s and 1099s in hand and a medical letter signifying the IRS will be held totally responsible for the nausea in the event he or she is called in for an audit.

I am also one of these hardcore procrastinators. I always remember that income tax day falls on the day after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Washington, D.C. in 1865. But unlike the other tardy filers, I do not sweat. Why? Because I have Gerard the accountant in my corner. The IRS tells us it knows all the answers, but I know differently. Gerard knows answers the IRS never thinks of asking.

The man is a renowned CPA. I know this because the government is seeking to name a loophole after him. He says if I ever thought that nobody knows I am alive, I should just file my income tax late. Last year, my neighbor’s wife called him to ask if birth control pills were tax deductible: “Only if they don’t work,” he wisely replied.

Even Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan consulted with him on the best way to balance the federal budget. Gerard did some figuring and e-mailed back the answer — close 28 states. Two years ago Gerard saved me mucho dinero on taxes. With the refund we received, Gloria wanted to go to the Panama Canal, I wanted to go to Aruba and the government wanted me to go to Leavenworth.

Every year I give Gerard my usual instructions — show that I didn’t make the money I did. Posted on his office wall is advice to his clients: “It is tax season. Send a check made out to the IRS for whatever money you have left after spending it on food, clothing and shelter.”

Last year I began grumbling to Gerard about paying taxes. He grabbed me by my W-2s and assured me my money was going for good causes such as repairing the Long Island Expressway’s pot holes (which sink a week later), supplying Flushing’s meter-maids with ball-point pens (better to slap you with a fine) and paying for the prison attendants who will shortly guard Martha Stewart (in the event she sneaks a chisel and file into her homemade cake).

Two years ago Gerard persuaded me to declare $75,000 for personal products. “You won’t have any worry if they call you down,” Gerard said. “Trust me.”

The IRS did call me down, took one look at me and allowed the deduction. Boy, that Gerard is a prophet.

I finally looked at my watch and it was now high noon, a perfect time to set up my annual appointment with Gerard. I dialed his number I knew by heart and a telephone message informed me that his number had been disconnected. Disconnected? My heart began to pound and my temples throbbed. “Oh, Gerard, how could you desert me now in my time of greed?”

Through my anguish, I vividly recalled many of the pearls of wisdom he taught me: “One of the great blessings about living in a democracy is that I have complete control over how I pay my taxes. I can choose either check, money-order or electronic fund transfer”; “Figuring out why they call that mystery form a ‘1040’ — out of every $50 you earn, you keep $10 and send the government $40”; and “If I didn’t spend my money on taxes, I would just squander it away on foolish luxuries like groceries, rent and utilities.” Gerard, where are you?

Frantically, I thumbed through the telephone book and contacted every Gerard I could find listed. No luck. None was the Gerard I knew. I ran up and down the streets of Queens frantically yelling his name. Finally, a man who knew a man who knew his cousin said that Gerard closed his office.

He had snuck out of town during the night and moved to Florida. I was stunned. What to do? What to do? I know there is no other income-tax preparer who could hold a candle to my Gerard.

I convinced myself not to worry. I simply can’t believe that the tax returns are written so only a CPA with a doctorate in business, a tax-law degree and an IQ above 215 can fill them out correctly. I will prepare my income tax myself. After all, it can’t be that difficult if I read the instructions.

I thumbed through some of the instructional data I received from the IRS. There were forms 1040 and schedules A, B, C, D, E, F, SE, ES, EZ, V and X with instructions. There also were forms 1099 — A, B, C, DIV, G, INT, MISC, OID, R and S with instructions. And that was only the beginning.

Then there were forms 2106 and 2106-EZ, form 8283 and employee business expense deductions, medical and mental expenses and others with instructions. I quickly gave up.

I next ran to Staples for some help. The saleswoman said it would help if I purchased the income tax software that completes the forms for you. I paid $40 and quickly brought it home, stuck it into my computer and waited. The saleswoman lied. It never moved.

So here am I, forlorn and broken-hearted. Help! Does anyone have any suggestions?

Income tax people, I want to let you in on a very big secret. This article was actually written by my brother-in-law, Barry.

Reach columnist Alex Berger at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 139.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Community News Group