making work pay.

Josh should just fire his accountant.

He received a letter from the IRS yesterday. While he's been gone, I've been saving all his mail in a special place or maybe wherever it lands when I come in the door. I haven't been opening it, because I was taught that opening other people's mail is a federal offense. But when I saw the IRS letter, I opened it. Which is funny, because that rule about not opening the mail of others was probably intended to protect things like sensitive communications from government agencies, rather than pleas for him to come back to AllState, which I do not open. I could have called him first to verify whether it was okay for me to open his IRS letter, but instead I asked his accountant, and she said it was totally fine.

The IRS wrote him to say that they have amended his 2009 return. To give him more money. Yes, they noticed in their careful analysis of his return that he was eligible for the Making Work Pay tax credit, which, when applied, will nearly double his refund this year. If in the future he wishes to claim the Making Work Pay tax credit, he'll want to attach Schedule M and enter the resulting amount on line 63 of Form 1040. Thank you and have a nice day, from your friends at the Internal Revenue Service, a kinder and gentler agency.

As soon as I read this bit of another person's mail, I headed to the internet to find more about this Schedule M. It's apparently part of the recovery act. I then checked his Form 1040, line 63 and verified that it did say something about a credit and I had entered a nice, round zero on that line. I know that I did not even look up what that line was talking about in the instructions. Why? Because I had looked up half a dozen other possible credits and they had been about farming or displaced persons or being blind. In other words, they had nothing to do with him. And so when I saw "Making Work Pay," I assumed that was one of those things that was for Other People.

As an aside, what kind of stupid name is "Making Work Pay?" I mean, doesn't work already pay? Isn't that why we do it? Isn't that why we have to pay taxes, because we did work and then got paid for it?

Okay, I'm only griping because I'm feeling a little embarrassed at missing the credit in the first place. This happened last year, too, when I managed to miss the fact that he qualified for the Earned Income Credit (as opposed to the Stolen Income Credit, I guess). And the IRS sent him a letter and some more money. I am grateful that the IRS knows what it's doing, that it's nice enough to correct mistakes in our favor that we didn't know we'd made. It could just keep our money and we'd never know the difference. But it takes the high road, sends us our money, and makes our accountants look foolish.

As it happens, I am also eligible for the Making Work Pay tax credit, and I am quite sure that I did not claim it on my return. I should fire my accountant as well.

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