Filing Taxes: Learning from Others’ Mistakes
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Women are caring and nurturing creatures, but we can sometimes be taken advantage of. Read on to learn about two ladies who fought their own tax battles and the lessons we can learn from the mistakes they made in filing taxes.
Crazy cat lady takes on the IRS
Ms. Jan Elizabeth Van Dusen is a woman whose passion is the care and feeding of feral cats. She was audited for her charitable contributions tax deductions relating to her work with cats. Not happy with the IRS for denying her those tax deductions, she had her day in court. She represented herself—and did a pretty good job. The Tax Court took 42 pages to explain that it agreed with her position and allowed her to take some of the deductions she had originally been denied.
She would have won on ALL her tax deductions if only she had gotten receipts for all items over $250 from the organization with which she worked—Fix Our Ferals, an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free spay/neuter clinics for feral cats in San Francisco’s East Bay area. Without those receipts, she lost out.
What do we learn from Ms. Van Dusen’s story? Three things:
Ex-husband runs business under ex-wife’s Social Security Number
Oley opened a business for her husband using her Social Security Number while they were married. (It is unclear as to why he didn’t just use his own SSN.) They got divorced about a year later, and Oley asked him to stop using her SSN. Naturally, he said he would, but unfortunately this was not true.
Oley found out that he was still using her SSN two years later, when she was filing taxes and the IRS started sending her unpleasant notices. This problem is not unique; it happens all the time.
This is a tough problem that Oley will be battling for about a year, but it could have been prevented easily, before reaching this point. Her divorce attorney should have taken some common-sense actions before the divorce was finalized. (It’s nonsense like this that inspired TaxMama’s course “A Tax Checklist For Knotty Divorces.”)
What can we learn from Oley’s story? Six things:
You never need to feel powerless or abused by the tax system or former spouses. There’s always a way to help yourself—and for people to help you.
Eva Rosenberg, EA is the publisher of TaxMama.com , where your tax questions are answered. Eva is the author of several books and ebooks, including the new edition of Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Eva teaches a tax pro course at IRSExams.com and tax courses you might enjoy at http://www.cpelink.com/teamtaxmama.
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