COLUMN: Tax Day is drawing near

By Chris A. Quilpa
Your Turn

Yes, Virginia, Monday, April 15, is Tax Day. It is a yearly obligation and responsibility for eligible and lawful residents and citizens of legal age in the United States to file federal (and state) income tax returns. The filing deadline may be delayed or extended by natural disasters or public health emergencies. 

Tax Day was introduced in 1913 when the Sixteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the United States Congress, a legislative branch of the government with the sole power to tax the income of individuals and corporations. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the government agency responsible for administering and enforcing federal tax laws.

This annual filing of federal (and state) income tax returns may be construed or interpreted as “a pain in the butt” on our part as taxpayers. Still, it’s necessary for and required of us responsible, lawful citizens and residents of the Commonwealth and the United States. 

We know that the federal (and state, city and other kinds of) taxes we pay and are collected are used for national defense and security (military), infrastructure building and improvement or repair projects, public health and education, research and development, science and technology, government officials’ and public (national, state and city) employees’ salaries, humanitarian (federal and foreign) aids, funds for different government agencies and social programs, etc. That’s reality, and it makes sense, right? (So, let’s not complain and make a big deal out of it. Paying taxes is inevitable for as long as we’re alive.)

During my early years of living in the United States, even when I was already married, I used to do our income tax returns before. But when it became (more) complicated (for example, owning another home and/or rental property managed by a reputable real estate property management company), I had no choice but to hire someone to do the job. I didn’t have the guts or initiative to study/learn about taxation laws and preparation. Thus, my wife and I have sought the services of an experienced certified tax preparer for over 20 years.

Folks, have you been audited in the years you’ve been filing your income taxes? Yes, no? Not yet? Here’s a revelation: We’ve had the experiences, you know. We never expected to get audited by our state’s Department of Taxation. Not once but twice! Two different tax years. That was, unfortunately, unexpected. We thought our tax preparer was perfect or infallible. On those two separate occasions, after sending and answering the Taxation dept. With our signature, the auditor’s correspondence from our tax preparer shows that we paid more taxes. We thought our tax preparer would be the one to explain the hows and the whys to the Department of Taxation. Quite upset and disappointed? You bet. Our kids, too, were angry and insisted we (have to) look for a new tax preparer. That’s what we’re going to do this time.

One of our friends, a nurse in the local area (who introduced us and used to avail herself of the tax services of the tax preparer in question), has since stopped going to this tax preparer because she was also audited before. 

Hopefully, days before the tax deadline, we would have seen this CPA (certified public accountant) she recommended and already done filing (electronically) our tax returns. By the way, I’ve readied our tax documents and papers for our prospective new tax preparer.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.