Confronting the BOE


This is the reservoir near my home where from time to time I’ve been known to take a stroll, watch the pelicans land like water skiers on the placid surface of the water, or the fishermen in their aluminum ponds, rods in hand, silently waiting for fish to bite. It’s a nice place to muse over dilemmas. You see, fans of The Demise of Dickey Parts One and Two, I have no idea where to go with this demented

  • Will Dinah have Dickie stuffed and mounted in her office over looking the MGM Studios?
  • Will Donald DePew destroy Trevor Lamour’s bad boy reputation by telling Celebrities Daily that he uses words like “nifty” and wasn’t sexually abused in his youth by the League of Demented Nuns?
  • Will Disney dump Dinah for Dora the Explorer?

I don’t have the answers so I’m going to return what I do know and what I promised sometime back – a glimpse of Board of Equalization hearings.  For those of you new to my blog – Howdy!

And thank you very much for stopping by!  I blabber on about many things but lately about subjects pertinent to taxes as a battle for innocent spouse relief is at the core of my next book, Willful Avoidance (originally subtitled: Secrets of a Kick Ass Tax Woman.)  So, as promised, here is one of the pivotal chapters of the book.

From Willful Avoidance  (with any luck, to be published April 15, 2015)

The battle was about to begin: the Invincible Tax Men versus the Willful Avoiders of Public Duty. Each side would have their moment in the ring, unless a Willful Avoider cried “uncle” after arm-bending, threats and promises for leniency were made in last-minute deals. Fully versed on all new laws and decisions, the Tax Men had the home court advantage. The Willful Avoiders, especially the small-scale divisions with no direct plan (just an overwhelming belief in the humanity of their story) had little chance. But it all rested ultimately in the hands of the judges, the mighty BOE, now sharpening their pencils (metaphorically) as they prepared to play Solomon. On this day they would need to appear kindly but judicial, full of wisdom but not easily conned. All opinions rendered were, of course, of public record and therefore available for scrutiny by the voting public.
The hall outside the boardroom held all the merriment of an emergency room. Four or five groups stood in nervous circles negotiating with FTB lawyers. They rattled their sabers quietly, in hushed tones as though at any moment one of the illustrious members of the BOE came through the boardroom door.
The litigants for the two cases Roberta knew were doomed to fail already sat in the back of the boardroom confidently. Their summaries were astonishingly brief, they had no exhibits to speak of, no legal representation, just some sort of rambling notion that they were in the right or that their current economic condition would get them out of an FTB debt. One appellant had even sent his cousin to plead his case because he couldn’t get off work. That would be a costly mistake. At nine thirty she walked over to the two groups still remaining in the hall. One was the Ravel Stone & Gravel gang with the very important lawyer, the other a woman and two men, one of whom Roberta knew quite well.
It was time to go into the boardroom, she explained to both groups. “Even if your case isn’t scheduled until eleven, the board requires all litigants to be in attendance for opening remarks. After the board begins hearing cases, you can move your negotiations out to the hall again. But,” she cautioned, as Ravel Stone & Gravel sulked away, “keep in mind that the BOE rarely needs the allotted thirty-five minutes to decide a case. After they hear one case, they continue right on to the next one without taking a break. If your case is called in court and you do not respond, you will lose your chance to appeal.”
“What would we do without you, Robbie?” Mark Slattery chuckled, putting an unwanted hand of her shoulder.
“Cut the bull, Slattery.” He flirted with her as young men often do with women they consider mother figures, only Slattery wasn’t that young, and Roberta wasn’t that old.
“You must be Maya Bethany,” she said, reaching over to shake the hand of the woman standing across from Slattery. She was a pretty woman with wavy auburn hair pulled back into a ponytail, soft grey eyes, and the high cheekbones of someone of Slavic descent. Other than a hint of lipstick, she wore no makeup and she’d dressed conservatively in slacks and a crisp, white blouse. Bravo, Roberta thought. It was the perfect look—neither flashy nor too casual. Over the past year she felt she’d gotten to know Maya Bethany, having read her appeals to the board in equal parts horror and admiration. And now, here she was. Almost exactly as Roberta had imagined.



Final cover of Willful Avoidance – what do you think?

Read the rest of the chapter here

14 thoughts on “Confronting the BOE

  1. The catch22 is that all revenue men are taught a completely different language to most of us, only large corporations are given a copy of the alphabet.

  2. ‘Uh, Mr. Slattery? We don’t have all day.’ Such a great visual at the end. And it’s a wonderful chapter, Jan. (I liked the yacht case too). It’s just such an overwhelming process figuring out how to do one’s taxes correctly, but to defend yourself against someone doing them incorrectly and without your knowledge is simply impossible. I sigh thinking about the terror and grief.
    This book is going to be incredibly interesting to a lot of people–and hopefully helpful to boot.
    Marvelous stuff, Jan.

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