Off to See the Wizard

This post is the last in a series called “Secrets of a Kick-Ass Tax Woman” beginning with “Fresh from the Trash Can.”


When I first found out about the Board of Equalization I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  Somewhere in the valley fog between the coast and mountains of California was a wonderful group of human beings just waiting to save me from a crushing tax debt with a wave of their magic wands!  I couldn’t wait to plead my case, to tell them what I’d been through, and to have them severely chastise the taxman who’d been hounding me.   


“I’m so glad there’s a Board of Equalization – I’m sure they’re absolutely lovely people!”

Of course, I had a ton of apple strudel in my noodle. 

From Willful Avoidance, Secrets of a Kick Ass Tax Woman, a conversation between the protagonist and her attorney from the poor attorney’s POV:

“The Board of Equalization? What is it?”
“It’s a them. You vote for them every four years.”
It was amazing how many people had no idea how tax laws were enforced and adjudicated. No idea. Living each day blissfully ignorant and apathetic about tax laws that could destroy them for the slightest of infractions. Voting every four years for a representative to the Board of Equalization with no idea why, their bios and statements of policy and intent ignored or used to line bird cages.
“Among other things, the Board of Equalization is the court of last resort for the taxpayer. There are five members of the board. Four are elected separately—from each of the four different districts of California,” he explained. How much of this did she really want to know? he wondered. Despite her many insecurities and her tendency to overdramatize, she seemed intelligent, “The fifth member is always the state controller. He or she generally serves as the chairman of the board.”


“I will take my case to the Land of Mordor and plead with the Evil Sauron to free me from an unfair debt.”

As in the story, quickly and without a hint of ambiguity, my lawyer informed me that there was no wizard hiding behind the curtains in Sacramento. Just a group of politicians who probably wouldn’t even read my twenty-six pieces of evidence but instead hand the appeal over to a first year law student to read and summarize.  The more he went on about their procedures and possible conservative biases the more I felt like Frodo from the The Lord of the Rings.  

Images from

Secrets of a Kick Ass Tax Woman


The Kick-Ass Tax Woman

The holidays are officially over and done.  I’ve taken down the Christmas decorations and now, as promised, it’s time to get back to work on Secrets of a Kick Ass Tax Woman, a series of posts I began just before the holidays in support of a book which should be out in a couple of months.  Because a battle for so-called “innocent spouse relief” is at the heart of the story. I thought I’d fill readers in on just exactly what it was.  

First, since it’s been a while, let’s recap previous Secrets posts .

  • Fresh from the Trash Bin – the tax man tells you your tit’s in the ringer but you have no idea why.  You’ve been such a good wife so WTF!!! 

    The ideal innocent Spouse Candidate

    The ideal innocent Spouse Candidate

  • Five Deadly Sins in the Eyes of the Taxman – why you shouldn’t have been such a good wife in the first place but, alas, now it’s too late.
  • Three Easy Pieces – what you can do about it other than roll over and play dead. (the thing you’d like to do)

For those of you wondering what the heck I’m talking about, if you can’t answer the following questions, then you really do need to start at the beginning of the series: Fresh from the Trash Bin.  Reading  tax jargon without some background has blinded many an innocent soul.

Yee Olde Innocent Spouse Quiz:

  1. If you’re divorced, living in a trailer park, making minimum

    Photo by Dorothea Lange

    wage, zero bank account and four children to feed, will the tax man still come after you for a debt your ex-husband incurred?

  2. Can you request innocent spouse relief from the taxman if you filed income tax returns separately from your spouse?
  3. What is the one thing many people vow while getting married that is a sin in the eyes of the taxman?

The answers are – 1.) You betcha!  2.) No and  3.) Vowing to “obey” your spouse.

Okay, to those of you who feel comfortable enough to go on, let’s pretend your tit’s in the proverbial wringer and  there’s seemingly no way out – now what do you do? Well, here’s what I did: 

1.) Divorced my husband hoping that the tax man would clear me.

This does not work, friends. But it will make you feel better and, if you are like I was, a stay-at-home mom who had to go back to work at minimum wage jobs, it will make you look more pathetic.

2.) Begged for mercy from the taxman.  

Ha!  If you’re lucky, your case will be assigned to a kind-hearted human being willing to help you file for innocent spouse relief (I had just such a person when dealing with the IRS, however I was far, far less fortunate with the state).  Keep in mind, tax collectors receive their bonuses and promotions based on how much money they bring in and not on their compassionate treatment of taxpayers.

3.)  Hired a tax attorney. 


The ideal lawyer but alas, most attorneys don’t like to go to court and would much rather get a settlement ahead of time.

There are a couple of things about lawyers you need to know before you go to that expense.  If you think a tax attorney will plead for complete relief from an unfair tax burden, forget it.  They will urge you to work out a settlement.  They will tell you it’s not wise to fight because, you see, in the court of tax law you are guilty and must prove your innocence.  But they will help you to understand the requirements for innocent spouse.  Trust me, unless you’re a lawyer, reading provisions from the tax code will drive you insane.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the actual process for requesting innocent spouse relief is.  Here goes:

  • First you complete a form (8857) that lists your assets, your income, and debts.
  • Next you get three of your long time neighbors to write letters attesting to your meager and miserable lifestyle during the year in question.  (Good luck to you on that one.  Most people are very squeamish about getting involved with the tax man in any way, shape or manner) 
  • Last you provide proof – as much as you can get ahold of – that your spouse hid information about finances from you.  I had twenty-six letters from my divorce attorney. I called them “The Exhibits A-Z.”  

Finally bundle up the whole shebang and sent it to the taxman. Then wait for their response.

If the answer comes thusly:

It is clear that appellant has failed to meet her burden of overcoming rebuttable correctness of respondent’s determination.

This is taxman speak for “your appeal has been rejected.”

Do not despair, as I did, it need not be the end.

Next – The court of last resort…


No, the court of last resort is not a heavenly intervention!

Songs of Paper: #MusicTuesday Guest Post by Duke Miller

From Mary Rowen’s blog – the incomparable poet and our friend Duke.

Today, I’m thrilled to have Duke Miller as a guest for Music Tuesday. “Songs of Paper” is an excerpt from his forthcoming book, On Damaged Ground.


I dedicate this story to Pantopicon. She is a writer working at and loves Jacques Derrida and Japanese robots. She writes by deleting. We like to pretend that we are pretending as we deconstruct our way to nothing.   DM

The Autumn of the Patriarch The Autumn of the Patriarch

Songs of Paper 

(What a shame about me…we could be high…where are we Mikey, on the moon?)

I am certain that “The Autumn of the Patriarch” by Gabriel Marquez is a good place to start a story about music.

There are few mentions of music in the book and for most people the paper is silent like the tips of soft fingers. That doesn’t bother me. Neither does the fact that many of the sentences in the book…

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Good Grief!


My post from the beginning of 2015 still seems appropriate! So I’m reposting it with a few minor additions.

Well folks, t’is officially the year 2015.  That other year – an old sod called 2014 – is dead and gone and I have nothing to say but…good grief!!

The good I can sum up in one word – you!  Because of all you lovely folks who’ve stopped  and commented on my meanderings I haven’t given up blogging and taken up knitting. A good thing as I get suicidal with knitting needles in my hands – I’m that hopeless with yarn.


Twilight Zone episode entitled “Number 12 looks Just like Me,” circa 1964 which postulates that in 2000 we’ll look exactly like super models whether we want to or not!

The grief, oh my. I think we can all agree there was too much grief last year, including the unspeakable horror of planes falling from the skies (2015 griefs: the refugee crisis, the attack on Paris, the insane rhetoric of the IRA in defense of lax gun laws and the buffoonery of the Republican debates, to name just a few).  Speaking of bizarre incidents, if you watched any episodes of the Twilight Zone marathon that ran stateside on New Year’s Day you probably noticed that many of the episodes were set in the year 2000.  In the fifties, sci-fi writers apparently envisioned the turn of the century as a time when we’d all have our own personal robots and take vacations on Mars.  A lot has happened since the black and white days of television which I’m sure the writers could not have envisioned but here it is 2015 and I’m absolutely certain man will not live on Mars in my lifetime.

Others, such as musician Prince, envisioned the turn of the century as the end of civilization. 

 Party Like it’s 1999

1999But when I woke up this morning,
Coulda sworn it was judgment day.
The sky was all purple,
There were people running everywhere,
Trying to run from the destruction,
You know I didn’t even care.
Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb,
We could all die any day
But before I’ll let that happen,

I’ll dance my life away…

Then there was the Y2K bug, a glitch in the computer programs running the world (the financial industries, the airlines, the hospitals, etc., etc) that some predicted would bring to a halt life as we knew on January 1, 2000. Gun sales soared, survivalists stocked up for prolonged life in bunkers, and many companies shelled out big bucks for Y2K experts.  Well, gun companies made money, bunker salesmen made money and tech guys struck it rich but for the rest of us, life went on. 

Mayan-CalendarAnother predicted end of the world was 2012, when the Mayan calendar ran out.  However, that proved to be another technological glitch having more to do with the foibles of man than the apocalypse.

So I’m not even going to comment on what this year will bring.  Probably not what I expect but that’s life, dealing with the unexpected.


From the web site where there are instructions on how to make this heavenly galette!

By the way, to all who celebrate, a blessed Feast of the Epiphany.  This day always brings to mind memories of a beautiful French woman and her spectacular Galette des Rois!

Here’s to you Frannie!