The alarm sounds at 6:13 a.m. The tax season has dawned, and it’s time to bring home some bacon by reviewing other people’s bacon. Agent Cal Q. Leshawn begins another 12-hour day by rolling out of bed (2.73 feet from the floor), eating 50% of a bagel with reduced-fat butter (1/7th the fat of regular butter), climbing into his Mazda 626 and driving to the office at 1673 Audit Lane, arriving precisely at 7:59. Just the numbers, ma’am.
Most of the time, Cal’s day is a typical 9-5 office job, but for a few months out of the year, mainly between March and June, tax season takes over the building. Although tax forms can be turned in any time after the end of the year, a majority of citizens wait until the April 15th deadline approaches. Many wait until the very evening of the deadline. This means that for a few tumultuous months, Cal’s days are turned upside down, with extended hours, hired freelance temps making minimum wage crowding the cubicles and overturning coffee cups, and reams and reams of tax forms to review.
Cal starts his busy day at the office by entering his cubicle and organizing his desk. Calculator on the right, laptop with plug-in number keypad dead center. Three stacks of files neatly spaced on the left: tax returns for review, potential tax calculation errors, and probable tax fraud (agents are inherently neat people).
Cal starts with the easy pile, reviewing individual tax returns, looking for any number that might be off, any claim that doesn’t jive. Just when he starts to get into the groove, the telephone rings. Cal recognizes the voice instantly as Bruno Claimatore, who works in the “vending machine and sanitation business” and always has interesting tax write-offs.
“Cal, I need your help. I am working to complete my tax return, and I need some help with creative wording from you.”
“Bruno, you know my job isn’t giving tax advice, I check the claims for accuracy after they are made . . .”
“Just hear me out, Cal, we are talking big moolah here, and I want to get it right. I need to know if I can claim lime and shovels as a business expense.”
“Is there a big need for shovels in the sanitation business?”
“Let’s just say there’s a lot of digging around. Is the claim legit?”
“Bruno, again, I can’t give you advice on filing. But if I found that claim on a return, I would probably check up on it.”
Hanging up, Cal decides to move on to the more exciting tax fraud pile. One return in particular, famous artist MC Mo’ Cash, hasn’t paid taxes in nearly three years. The federal government doesn’t look kindly on this, and Cal starts the wheels in motion.
Mo’ is about to have less. Less in his bank account, fewer cars in the driveway, one less house. This is part of the power of the IRS agent, able to repossess possessions, put holds on bank accounts, and more or less take what they are owed.
Cal leaves the office to meet with Mo’s lawyers to explain the situation. He knows he has Uncle Sam at his back, so the back taxes will be paid.
Cal arrives home close to dark; the clock on the microwave reads 8:19. After polishing off a 10 oz. T-bone and 29 green beans, he collapses into his bed. Only 89 days left of tax season.