With all of the negative press focused on the I.R.S. I thought that this story was apropos.
I.R.S. and Taxes
My father’s father, Edison Beck held many jobs in his life. He was a justice of the peace, a farmer, an accountant, and a tax consultant. He ran a lumber mill. He was a squire, did surveying, and was a lay speaker. A tall slender man, he was active even when he was crowned with sliver white hair. My granddad kept the books, did payroll, and did taxes of two multi-million dollar companies until he was in his early eighties. His penmanship was superb and I was envious for it.
Most of his clientele were average, everyday rural people who looked to him for help with taxes, deeds, and legal matters. His clients were small time farmers, small business owners, and regular citizens who would bring their information to him in much-handled envelopes, shoe boxes, and brown paper bags. Stacks of receipts wrapped with twine or wrapped in rubber bands for him to sort through. They came to him because they were simple folk, plain people; people who were easily intimidated by the government and its regulations. They trusted him with their finances and that he could sort their jumble of papers and then aptly ply the numbers to the jumble of government paperwork. Eventually he would give them the answer for which they anxiously awaited. Will they have to pay money to Uncle Sam or had they overpaid and would get money back?
When the taxes were readied, he would have them sign their returns and even placed a stamp on each envelope. The only thing that his clients would have to do would be to stick the finished returns into their mailboxes to be picked up.
I can remember my granddad sharing one story about a farmer coming in with his wife to get their taxes done. They sat on the opposite of his desk. He watched as the farmer would take out the receipts one at a time and show his wife saying what each receipt was for. Then he would say, “Isn’t that right?” before handing it to my grandfather. My granddad was an extremely patient man, but he was slowly reaching his limit. It came to a head when the farmer produced a receipt, showed his wife, but instead of asking her, he asked my Grandfather, “A commode seat, it is deductible, isn’t it?”
Keeping his voice steady, he replied, “Not unless the cows use it.” Granddad tactfully said, “Let me have the box. I can see what is deductible or not.” Reluctantly, the farmer handed the box to my granddad.
Another tax story revolves around another farmer who was a friend of our family. He kept his tax receipts inside of five metal milk cans. Each year of receipts were stored in the sealed cans with the date painted on the lids. On the sixth year, her would dump and burn the old receipts and store the new ones in the can after changing the date on the lid.
An I.R.S. agent came to his farm to audit him. Ken was the farmer’s name. He lowered a fold down desk in the milk house. That was where he stored his receipts. The desk was for the agent to work. Ken moved the five cans close and knocked off the lids with a brass hammer. (Brass is a softer metal and won’t harm the milk cans.) He put them within the agent’s reach and said, “There are my receipts.”
The agent leaned over and peered inside. Looking up, he said to Ken, “I can’t audit your account this way. You will have to get an accountant to put them in order for me to review.” expecting Ken to bow at his feet like other people that he intimidated with his audits.
Ken said, “The law says I only have to supply my receipts for you. It doesn’t say how I am to present them.” Ken turned and walked away, leaving the agent to his task. He said it looked like the agent went through the first few inches in a couple of the milk cans before packing up and leaving his farm.