Monday, October 22, 2012

What an Up and Down Day

So, yesterday rocked--when it wasn't busy sucking. 

A few weeks ago, my Mom got a letter from her bankruptcy Trustee.  A letter telling her that, because she had failed to file her income taxes, her case was being tossed and she would be open to collections from her debtors.  My nearly-80 year-old Mom.  Panicked, she called me.  I told her to call her bankruptcy attorney.  She did, and she was told not to worry--after all, she had filed her taxes, so it was obviously just a hiccough (not an uncommon one) in the Trustee's office.  She was told to gather up her paperwork and bring it on down to the attorney's office, they'd take care of it.

That's good, right?  That's easy.  One problem, though.  She can't find the paperwork. 

She calls the IRS.  They can't find the paperwork, either.  In fact, they say she didn't file.

Not a problem, I figure--just call H&R Block, right? 

Wrong.  My Mom didn't use H&R Block this past year because she couldn't afford the two hundred bucks they charge her.  No, she let my SISTER do it. 

Jesus wept.

I asked my Mom a bunch of questions and, as best as I can figure, my sister used an online program of the Turbo Tax variety.  But instead of FINISHING (which involves confirmation emails and digital signatures), she got as far as submitting the initial forms and then quit.  Figured it was "good enough."  Instead of reading the directions and fine print, she hit "submit" and then walked away.  Our poor Mother is utterly computer illiterate--no way she could have known that there was more to the process.  Ma wrote a four dollar check (what she owed) and . . . who knows?  Did it get mailed?  I have no clue, and neither does my Mom.  I've told her to check and see if the check was ever cashed.  Here's what I'm thinking--even if it was mailed, it's lazing about in a dead-check bin at the Ogden Service Center.

What to do?  I don't know!  You'd like to think that the Bankruptcy folks would take pity on an almost-80 year old woman who made a mistake but had the best of intentions.  You'd like to think they're not going to lay her open to her creditors and let her sink.  After all, she's made her bankruptcy payments on time and faithfully for over a year.  You'd like to think they're not going to bury her because her daughter didn't read for comprehension.

You'd like to think those things.  But fact is, not only do I not know, but I can easily see her sinking over this.

When I first discovered that my sister had done the taxes, I moaned.  I knew what that meant--it meant receipts weren't printed out, confirmation numbers weren't written down, forms weren't printed and filed.  Because that just comes with the territory.  I didn't dream that the taxes hadn't even been filed.  One year--I leave for ONE year and this is the disaster that comes down.  I'd have warned Ma in advance, but I had no idea she was going to let my sister do her taxes.  She's always used H&R Block.  I've told her NOW to use the free IRS seniors help or the other various "free tax prep for seniors" programs around, but barn door, you know?  Too little, too late.

On the bright side, my Dad and Step-mom sent us two hundred bucks!  Just to help out, said they'd pitch in when they can!  I can't even describe how unexpected and needed it was!  Just in time for the new car payment.  Thank you!

After agonizing with my Mom on the phone, we took a drive back up toward Shenandoah and Front Royal, with a stop at Sky Meadows State Park.  While the colors are just a bit past peak, it was still a gorgeous and wonderful drive!  We saw a gorgeous red-tailed hawk on the way out of town, walked along the Shenandoah River (Charlie, our Cairn, even got into the water a bit on his own--no encouragement!), and adored a whole flock of Amish folks at a convenience store in Front Royal.  Place wasn't so convenient, though--ladies room was closed and men's room had no toilet paper.  So we put our purchases back on the shelves and went elsewhere.  I did take a moment to warn the lovely young Amish women about the loo situation.  I'd forgotten about their wonderful accent and sweet nature.  It was great to hear them speaking to one another in their Pennsylvania Dutch.  I love it here.

Red Tailed Hawk

Shenandoah River (yes, you can sing along with John--I was)

Front Royal in full fall regalia.

We came home just in time for "Once Upon a Time," ate Catalan and homemade brownies, watched our boy pound at that programming homework until just before the deadline (he scored 100%!), and then played Mancala and crashed.  Mostly a good day, but oh, my poor Mom!

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