THE PROGENITOR TAX REFUND
by H. David Morrow firstname.lastname@example.org
(Previously published in MISSING LINKS Vol. 8, No. 12, 23 March 2003) http://www.petuniapress.com/
I'm preparing my tax returns.
It's a chore made more difficult by the fact that GW (Geneaholic Wife) insists on keeping all her receipts in date order. In fact, she files everything in date order, all together. So I have to go through every pile of genealogy documents to find receipts, cancelled checks, etc.
This means starting in one room and systematically sorting through stacks and piles looking for potentially deductible papers. While doing this, an idea came to me.
All her genealogy paperwork represents about a thousand ancestors. At least half of them are being researched by no one else; therefore our house is their current domicile. They take up space, make it difficult to get around, and generally contribute to the turmoil that makes our house look a lot like the apartment I had when I was single.
It's not a pretty way to live. If you don't believe it, just ask GW -- she's always complaining about finding my dirty socks and underwear under the bed. I haven't figured out how she does this, because I literally have to leap over stacks of documents just to get into bed. Nevertheless, she manages to find week-old socks -- usually right after she's finished washing a load.
"But," you say, "what's the idea?" Sorry, I digressed.
Anyway, we're devoting a considerable amount of valuable living space to a whole bunch of her progenitors. They pay no rent, but deny me the ability to walk unimpeded around my own house. Even our dog has trouble finding enough floor space to curl up and take a nap.
So, you see, sharing a domicile with all these relatives (by marriage) is more than just a simple inconvenience. (Imagine how you'd feel if you had to live with 500 in-laws.)
What's more, they earn no money, which means they're indigent. Now, if I remember correctly, you can deduct (from your taxes) the costs for caring for indigent relatives.
My idea is to take off, for each of the 500, the amount of square footage given over to their storage. The deduction would also include a portion of the heat and light costs. Without heat, the relatives might mildew and without light, I might break a leg falling over one of them.
Further, I want to reduce my taxes by the amount the forebears generate in cleaning costs, insect treatment and dust bunny supplies. (Happily, GW's ancestors don't eat all that much.)
I asked GW to call the IRS to find out what forms to use, but she was thoroughly wrapped up in genealogy and history Internet sites. So I called. The phone rang 42 times before it changed to a loud, high-pitched tone. I'd misdialed their fax line. No matter, I'll simply call my tax advisors at Shyster & Shaftem.
I had previously been working closely with Ilya Shaftem, but through some slight misunderstanding in interpreting the complicated tax code, she's on leave for 10-20 years. Ilya, nee Shyster, was married to Phil Shaftem, who was tall, handsome, gregarious, well spoken and, it turns out, a con artist.
He went out to mail some IRS forms one day and never returned. Their jointly held stock and bond portfolio never surfaced, either. But, I digress, again.
Ilya was in partnership with her sister, Ima, who I'm now using for tax advice. The phone at their office only rang 14 times. "Hello. This is David Morrow. Is Ima free?"
"No. She's $5.63 an hour. Do you want to talk to her?" the sweet, young voice responded.
I figured her vast experience entitled her to such an exorbitant rate, so I bit the bullet and spoke to her. "Ima," I asked, "I've got around 500 of my wife's indigent relatives living here and I'd like to deduct them. What I.R.S. forms should I get?"
"Hmmm," said Ima being her usual thoughtful self. "If any of them earns less than $10,000, they might be entitled to Earned Income Tax Credits."
Without boring you with too many details, this year I'm filing for all of them. Ima called yesterday to tell me I'll get back $32.63 for each of GW's progenitors. That works out to $16,350 that Ima says I have to split with her 60/40. She says her share is going to help pay for a condo somewhere in South America. I guess she's opening an office there.
But the best news is this: the combined refunds from all GW's ancestors total $486,654. Finally, GW's addiction is going to reward me! If I can get this kind of return every year, I might just let all the in-laws stay.