The Story So Far…Mark visits his post-office box and finds another letter from the Canada Revenue Agency. He’s been receiving more and more of these in the mail, but has ignored them all. He’s had bad experiences in the past...
The Story So Far… Mark visits his post-office box and finds another letter from the Canada Revenue Agency. He’s been receiving more and more of these in the mail, but has ignored them all. He’s had bad experiences in the past and didn’t want to hear any bad news. Reluctantly he opens the letter and finds the government has done an audit and he owes more than $20,000 in back taxes.
Mark closed up his PO Box and put in a call to his accountant, Dan McCluskey, a certified general accountant who had been doing Mark’s taxes out of his home office for years.
“Hey, this is Mark.”
“Mark, the truck driver.”
“Oh, hey, Dalton how’s it going?”
“Terrible. I just found out the government reassessed my taxes for the past five years and says I owe $20,000 and change in back taxes.”
There was a pause. “You haven’t dealt with that yet?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? You know about this?”
“Of course. They called me months ago and I told them that I prepared your taxes according to the information you supplied me. The guy on the phone told me the returns were actually very well prepared. I don’t understand, they should have been done with you ages ago.”
Mark sighed, knowing full well that it was his own fault it had come to this. “I’ve been getting their letters for a while.”
“And you ignored them?”
“Not really. I uh…I didn’t open them.”
Dan groaned. “Then of course they audited you. You could have taken care of this months ago if you’d just worked with them and explained your situation. If you had done that, then probably nothing would have happened. But now they’ve done the audit, they’ve done all that work and they’re expecting to get paid. You’re going to have to prove everything now.”
“Every expense. Every receipt.”
“So I’m screwed?”
Dan laughed, which was probably easy for him to do because he wasn’t the one on the hot seat. “You shouldn’t be,” he said. “It is a lot of money, so they must have disallowed a lot of your expense claims. It’ll probably take a long time to go through everything, but as long as you can prove you incurred every one of your expenses, you’ll be fine. I mean, you do have your tax records for the past five years safely stored somewhere, right?”
“Yeah, I do,” Mark said, feeling a weight come off his shoulders. “Bud gave me a few feet of shelf space in a back room at his office. There’s probably more than five years of records there.”
“Then you should be fine.” A pause, then: “Why on earth wouldn’t you open the letters?”
“I didn’t want to.”
“The government doesn’t go away if you act like they’re not there, you know.”
“I know. It’s just…I haven’t had much luck with the government and taxes in the past.
“And your luck continues it seems.”
Mark sighed. “What do I have to do?”
“Set up a meeting with the adjuster and show him all your records. They’re all in order so you shouldn’t have a problem.”
“You really think so?”
“Yes, unless you lied to me.”
Mark thought about that. Like most people he might have fudged his numbers a bit over the years, but nothing more than a few dollars here or there. “No.”
“Then you’ll be fine.”
“I thought maybe you could be there with me.”
“You don’t need me. As long as you have your records you’ll be all right.”
Mark hung up the phone and called the number in Ottawa that was on the letter. “Hello?”
“Hi, this is Mark Dalton calling?”
“Mark Dalton. You’ve been sending me letters for the past few months.”
“Oh yes, that Mark Dalton. I was afraid you might be dead.”
“No, very much alive.”
“The Government of Canada is very happy to hear that.”
“That’s good to know,” Mark said. They talked for a short while longer to arrange a time and place where they could meet and sort this whole mess out.
Mark suggested a coffee shop.
“Well,” the man said. “I was hoping for your home, perhaps your home office where you keep all of your records.”
Mark explained he basically lives out of his truck and there was no home office, or even a home for that matter.
The agent laughed. “That was one of the problems we had with your return,” he said. “Your expense claims in some categories were extremely high, as if you were living out of your truck…which we found highly improbable.”
“But I do live out of my truck.”
“Of course you do.”
After a few more times back and forth the agent finally said, “Alright, Mr. Dalton why don’t you just bring your records to my office? We’ll have our meeting here.” Mark agreed.
“Good. See you then, Mr. Dalton.”
“Should I bring my chequebook?” Mark asked, but by then the man on the other end had hung up.
One more phone call to make.
He dialed up Bud.
“Hi Bud it’s me, Mark.”
“A marked man,” Mark said. “The government’s got me in its sights and they’re about to pull the trigger.”
“What’s going on?” Bud wanted to know. Mark explained – giving Bud plenty of time to laugh when he told him he hadn’t opened the government’s letters for months – then asked about records he had stored in Bud’s back room. “They’re still there, right?” Bud hesitated, then said: “They should be.”
“What do you mean, ‘Should be’?”
“Uh, I haven’t been back there in a while.”
“Yeah, but the stuff should be there, right?
“We did some remodeling here a couple months ago. I just hope no one moved your stuff into another room or…”
“Or…threw it out.”
“You did not just say that!”
Bud began to explain but Mark cut him off.
“I’m on my way over,” he said and hung up the phone.
Mark didn’t break any speed limits getting to Bud’s office, but he might have ran a few red lights…or at least amber lights on their way to being red.
By the time he got to Bud’s, Bud was in the back room that normally stored Mark’s tax records. There were boxes all over the place, but none of them were open and tax records – Mark’s or anyone else’s – were nowhere to be seen.
“You don’t have a clue where they are, do you?” Mark said, his voice as flat as a road-ravaged retread.
“They have to be here somewhere.”
“You’ve lost them, haven’t you?” Mark was surprised at how flat and defeated his voice sounded.
Bud kept digging through the scattered papers. “They’re not lost until I stop looking for them.” Mark sat down on a couple of piled boxes and said, “Twenty grand…and that’s just for starters. They’re still looking into my GST filings. You know how much GST I get back each month on my truck payments?”
“I’ve got an idea.”
“Well times that by 12 and then by five…”
“Don’t worry. I know your records are here and I’m not going to stop looking until I find them.” But Mark wasn’t listening any more. “Maybe if I go somewhere far away for a while…like South America. You got any loads coming up to Brazil, or maybe Argentina.”
“I’m still looking,” Bud said.
– Mark Dalton returns next month in the conclusion of Taxes can be so taxing.